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Cayla Rivas shares change of heart over debated sport

Many student-athletes participate in sports throughout the year. Most sports teams only last a few months but for cheerleaders, their commitment to their sport lasts until the last day of school. Being part of a sport that is year round takes dedication and can be hard for cheerleaders, including cheer captain, senior Cayla Rivas.

Kaylie Clem | The Feather Online

Senior Cayla Rivas (far left back), poses with teammates after competing at the Buchanan CIF competition, Feb. 6, 2016.

Rivas was pushed to become a cheerleader by the FC cheerleading coach Hope Villines in eighth grade. While people often do not view cheer as a sport, initially Rivas agreed and planned on leaving cheerleading a few months after joining. However, as time went on, Rivas began to look forward to it and fell in love with the sport.

“I never really had a desire to join cheer,” Rivas said. “In the eighth grade, Hope Villines recruited me; she kept bugging me to do it. I had never really seen cheer as a sport and wasn’t really interested, but Hope told me that I could try it out and if I didn’t think it was a sport after a couple months, I could quit. As time went on, I began to look forward to cheer. I realized that I really enjoyed stunting and tumbling and I decided to stick with it.”

Cheerleaders rely on their teammates to ensure stunts are safely and effectively performed. For many cheer teams, cooperation is necessary to ensure success and safety on the mats. According to Villines, the FC cheer team has both teamwork and cooperation which makes them a successful cheer squad.

One of Rivas’s teammates Amanda Grimmius, ‘19, enjoys Rivas’s mood and spirit during practices and competitions.

“I enjoy Cayla’s enthusiasm and passion for the cheer and this team,” Grimmius said. “She really pushes us all to be our best and contributes amazing athleticism and natural talent, as well as encouragement and determination. My favorite memories of Rivas consist of awesome stunts we’ve been able to hit together.”

Villines enjoys Rivas’s company and is thankful to have her on the cheer team.

“I have seen Cayla grow in so many ways in the past four to five years,” Villines said. “I have not only seen her confidence and communication skills grow and change but most importantly I have seen her faith and her relationship with the Lord become so strong! All of these changes have made her an even stronger cheerleader! Cayla is physically, mentally and emotionally strong! The team responds to her leadership as the head captain with respect!”

As a five-year cheerleader, Rivas is thankful she did not leave cheer and considers it a difficult sport. Even though she has been injured while cheering she persists and does not want to stop. Rivas has worked hard for cheer and feels that she needs to bring passion into the sport so she can set a good example for her teammates.

Kaylie Clem | The Feather Online

Rivas, left, leads the cheer squad in the pregame Pledge of Allegiance, Sept. 6.

“I think I’m even more passionate about cheer now,” Rivas said. “I’ve learned that there truly is a sport, and it’s not something to just mess around with. From sprained ankles to cracked ribs and broken wrists, I’ve learned that cheer is actually a competitive and sometimes a dangerous sport.

“Working for months and months to compete and show the judges and other teams what you’ve got for a minute and thirty seconds on the mat at a cheer competition makes it all worthwhile,” Rivas continued. “As the head captain, I feel it’s my responsibility to bring the passion and drive to the team, leading them in a way that encourages them and lights a fire in them to bring their passion for cheer out as well.”

Villines is proud of Rivas’s work and compassion for the sport. Villines is impressed with what Rivas has accomplished in her years as a cheerleader.

“I’m so proud of Cayla and all of her accomplishments outside of cheer,” Villines said. “The Lord is going to do amazing things in Cayla’s life! Cayla wants nothing more than to see her team succeed! She loves the competition part of cheer and stunting is her favorite! She brings athleticism, mental toughness and leadership to this year’s cheer team!”

After graduating, Rivas plans to attend the Academy of Art University and major in photography.

For articles on cheer, read FC cheer returns to competition victorious. For more cheer profiles, read Profile: Carlee Whipple leads cheer team with passion, experience. For more articles, read Michelle Warkentin prepares to part ways with campus.

Harjot Singh can be reached via email and via Twitter.

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