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Coach Hope Villines anticipates improvement in campus cheer squads

Danielle Foster | The Feather Online

The cheer team competes in division II, placing fourth in the CIF Central Section Cheer and Dance Championships.

The Fresno Christian cheer team starts their first of three competitions over the next couple of weeks. Practicing most days of the week, the cheer teams have worked toward these competitions since before the school year began. They will compete at the Clovis Pep Classic at Clovis High, Saturday, Jan. 26.

In division II, FC cheer placed fourth in the CIF Central Section Cheer and Dance Championships at Buchanan High School, Dec. 1. The team faced Clovis North, Clovis High, Sanger High, and St. Joseph. Starting as fourth in the first competition of the season, the girls work to hit all stunts and aim for a higher score.

Cheer coach for the last five years, Hope Villines also recognizes the hard work that cheerleaders constantly put forth.

“It’s amazing the improvement on all three teams,” Villines said. “The junior high and high school teams start their practices in the summertime. They go to cheer camp and compete at the camp. Then they learn the competition routine on top of all their game cheer routines. So it’s been an amazing year for us to watch them go from learning to work as a team, to being a team and then to what they are going to accomplish on the cheer mat this weekend.”

The following podcast features Villines expanding her comments on the cheer team.

Along with regular class practices, Villines and her team work on the competition routine for two and a half hours on Wednesdays, starting at 7 a.m. The team practices the whole routine, adding in all the stunting, tumbling, and cheer jumps.

Senior Alina Davila, ‘19, feels the whole team benefits from the community aspect of cheer.

“Our team has a new bond,” Davila said. “In the beginning of the year I really didn’t talk to many of the girls. But because I’ve joined cheer I’ve talked and got to know so many girls I probably never would’ve gotten the chance to know. This bond has allowed us to push each other to strive for excellence.”

The following tweet contains a video from FCS cheerleader, Morgan Parker, ’21, promoting the upcoming cheer competition.

Gabriella Hutcheson, ‘24, looks forward to the judges critique along with the collective feeling of working towards a goal.

I am hoping to get first place this year at competition since we have nationals soon,” Hutcheson said. “I feel it gives the overall team a goal to work towards and to keep on improving. The judges give us comments about what we need to improve on, which is one thing I’m looking forward to.”

Villines plans to bring 63 cheerleaders to the competition this year, including the elementary, junior high and high school squads. She perceives how the sport benefits each cheerleader on the team.

Kaylie Clem | The Feather Online

Along with learning competition routines, the cheer team performs at football games and other various sports events.

“I really believe that the sport of cheer is the most important sport that a girl can do as far as growth,” Villines said. “It forces you to be out in front of a crowd and it forces you to make eye contact with people. You have to get over any shyness you have of performance. You have to be have confident enough to actually do the sport.”

Davila also views competition as a way to improve rather than just trying to win.

“Competition helps out cheer team improve because it gives us a goal and something to look forward to,” Davila continued. “We are able to see other cheer squads perform and get an outside view of other teams. This makes us want to better ourselves and push ourselves to our fullest potential.”

Traveling to Azusa, the team will compete in the West Coast Nationals, Feb. 2. This is the last competition for placing where they face-off against Christian schools all over the west coast.

The team’s last competition will take place at the The Clovis West Showcase at Clovis West, Feb. 9. This is a time to show the best routine possible and have fun. No placing is available as it is a showcase.

This Saturday, Jan. 26, the team will perform at 10:20 a.m., facing the North side of the Clovis High gym.

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Vijay Stephen can be reached via, Twitter and email.

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