Looking Forward: ILS Cheer

Victoria Betancourt, Editor in Chief / Sports Editor

Heading to warm-ups at FHSAA Regionals through the halls of Coral Glades High School, I hold onto my teammate, Alexa’s, hand as we walk in two lines and shout “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys. We keep our heads held high, wearing our uniforms with pride as we feel the stare of other teams. 

In front of us are our coaches, Karyn and Coral, keeping us calm under the pressure. Meanwhile, our supporters, who include some of the football team, fellow Royals, and parents stand behind us while we wait for warm ups. 

Slowly but surely we make our way inside, seeing some of our competition as we wait to hit the blue mat for eight minutes before going out and performing in front of a panel of judges. Warming up proved to us that we had this in the bag and that we could have an incredible season together as long as we continue to put in the effort. 

After warm ups, we wait in the wings of the competition, hearing our competitor’s routine music as we do our usual rituals. We stand hand in hand together as our head coach, Coral, leads us through prayer. Following this, our co-captain, Alexandra Garcia makes us breathe in the good vibes and exhale the bad ones. Finishing off, our captain, Ivana Major shouts, “If everyone does their job,” with the response from us of, “We will hit.” This is a ritual started by our old captain, Sofia Peñas and co-captain, Ana V. Salazar, that has lived on with the team.

As soon as our name is called, we rush out onto the blue mats cheering and spiriting as we set up; the pressure rising an infinite amount.

Once we stand and set, the music begins and so does one of our most important full-outs of the season. As we go through the routine, we can hear the crowd cheer us on and we know that no one is touching the floor. 

The energy in the cheer was unmatched. Having the fans “say it with us,” was an incredible feeling that can’t be explained as anything but euphoric. Having a moment to breathe as we wait for the music to start again, we realize that all we need to focus on now is what we’re known for: pyramid. 

We hear the beginning “ding-ding” of the music and it’s go time. We do our dance and start to race to the finish line with the pyramid. The fight that everyone had within them was unseen before. Getting to the ending structure the music goes, “We are Royals” with our call back of “Queens” at the end. 

The fact that we got through to the end with no one falling was a feeling we haven’t felt in a while. A week or so before this, junior Silvana Levito got injured and wasn’t able to perform with us which caused us to have to rearrange the routine a little. Fortunately, Silvana is on the mend.

Getting off the mat, we ran back to get our bags to come back for our awards. 

We were all sitting outside in a circle, waiting for the awards. We sit together anxiously on our phones and discuss what just happened as our fans, parents, and coaches gather around us. Suddenly, we hear a man on a megaphone begin announcing. When he says “Extra-Large Non-Tumbling Division,” we go silent as he slowly makes his way up, starting from 8th place. When we hear that we made it to finals, we started screaming and shouting. 

After the celebration though, comes the hard work. We may have made it straight to FHSAA State Finals, but we haven’t come out on top yet.