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Cheer girls go to New York

Their cheerleading careers began with an application and try-outs; four years later, it began with a simple invitation. Their road was a bumpy one, but fast forward to today, they were among the few selected to perform in New York City. With hard work and positive mindsets, varsity cheerleaders seniors Valeria Alvarez and Rika Ciminieri were invited to take part in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade held by Spirit of America on Thursday, Nov. 27.

Underneath the glamor hide humble roots. Before getting invited to large competitions,  Alvarez and Ciminieri started off joining the junior varsity team in their freshmen year shortly before moving into varsity cheer. Before ascending to the top to be captains, Ciminieri faced hardships such as not being able to participate in certain stunts that cheer performed.

“I had tons of discouraging setbacks throughout the years to get to where I am now. My freshman year, I didn’t have a role in stunting, and I barely felt I contributed to the team,” Ciminieri said. “Starting my junior year I began to fly main stunts and I learned to do more advanced things. My setbacks only brought me back stronger.”

After overcoming adversities and acquiring experience, the cheerleaders were invited by United Spirit Association to perform among others in New York at University of California, Irvine’s cheerleading camp. A week before the parade happened, both arrived in New York to complete and finalize preparations.

“I was really excited and afraid to mess up. The fact that I was [there], I thought to myself, ‘there’s no messing up now,'” Alvarez said. “The music played really low and it got me nervous, but I saw the video [afterwards] and it came out pretty [well].”

During the parade, they performed on the streets of New York to KISS, a 1970’s rock band, and struck a peace sign pose to the crowd at the end. Even with the heightened moral and buzzing excitement in the air, the large size of this event proved to be a different challenge for Alvarez and Ciminieri.

“Having to all hit the same thing at the same time, it taught me patience; it was pretty hard,” Ciminieri said. “I was also extremely nervous because it was going to be on national television for every single American in the nation to see.We had practiced so hard over the previous week, trying to perfect a 700 person routine, and I couldn’t wait to show it to America.”

With the closing of the event and returning home from New York, they viewed this opportunity as one that was memorable, despite the harsh 30-degree Fahrenheit weather.

“I was freezing! Before actually lining up for the parade, we had to wait outside for about three hours while wearing our cheer outfits. It even started snowing,” Alvarez said. “ It was an incredible thing to experience. I was [having] a once in a lifetime experience and [enjoyed] every minute of it. We were in New York, experiencing everything together and [having] a group of other spirited cheerleaders wanting to be there for the same reasons.”

By Jonathan Liu, Staff writer


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