Earlier this month, the Malibu High School (MHS) cheerleading team traveled to the ESPN Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida to compete in the National High School Cheerleading Competition for the first time in the school’s history.
After hard work and dedication, the cheerleading team scored first place in the preceding regional tournament — high enough to qualify for a bid for this year’s national competition. Though they did not advance through the national competition, the girls said they “did pretty amazing,” overcoming tough obstacles to make it to Florida.
“It’s been so many years in progress of us working hard and trying to get the right connection with the team to get to nationals,” co-captain and senior Kennedy Meyers said. “It takes a lot of hard work, practices and dedication.”
In addition to the countless after school and weekend practices, the team had to raise the money to fly themselves to Florida.
“We sold chocolate-covered almonds and we asked for donations from sponsors. One of the girls on our team worked at the Boys & Girls Club every day until she reached her goal,” co-captain Skylar Washington explained.
The team successfully reached its fundraising goal. However, just two days before the competition, the girls received unfortunate news that one of their teammates had suffered a concussion and would not be able to perform. Coach Melissa Andino quickly decided to put cheerleader Juliette Boyd into her place.
“For our circumstances, I think we did pretty amazing,” junior Ariana Farrahi said when discussing the team’s obstacles.
After perfecting their routine, the team members flew across the country to compete with thousands of other cheerleaders from around the United States. After a day to settle in and practice one last time, the MHS cheer team finally was finally able to take a shot at advancing to the semi finals.
“We hit all of our stunts. Nothing bad happened, no serious falls or injuries … I love my girls and they did amazing and I’m proud of them,” leading junior Micole Nuñez said.
Despite overcoming adversity, the cheerleaders did not score high enough to advance to the semi finals.
“Our team is very mental — we let a lot of things get to us. Performing was great, we did amazing when we performed. But during practices it was really hard. We would practice in this huge field and watch other teams do things that were more advanced than us — even though they weren’t in our division,” Washington explained. “We panicked a lot, but when we got on the stage we forgot everything and we were back at home performing at our gym.”
Going forward, the cheerleaders see the positive in their experience. They hope to build on being the first MHS cheer team to ever go to nationals and try again next year with the help of Coach Andino.
“What I take away is that hard work does pay off. Even though we didn’t place, we still had fun and we were able to show off what Malibu has,” Nuñez added. “There was a lot of tears, blood and sweat, but it was all worth it. I would do it again.”
As this cheer season comes to a close, the cheerleaders are looking forward to next season and hope to give nationals another try. They hope to take what they learned this year and apply it the next.
“I have so much faith in this team. We can overcome adversity and I think we are going to do great,” Myers said.
Washington agreed with Myers, as both seniors know that although they are leaving next year, their team will keep on being working hard and being successful.
“No matter what happens, you still have to look at the positive things and keep your head up. Sure, we didn’t make it to semis, but we got there and raised money to get there and we didn’t drop any stunts. We tried our hardest and that’s all the matters,” Washington said.
In the meantime, the girls were able to have some fun in their free time at Orlando’s Disney World only a short shuttle ride away from the Sports Complex.
“I think that the team is going to be stronger afterwards because [nationals] is a big bonding experience. We will be a stronger team to do it all over again,” Farrahi shared.