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Varsity cheer team, coaches reflect on the meaning of teamwork

Braden Bell | The Feather Online

The FCS cheerleading team earned the title of  Grand Champion at the FCC West Coast National Championships, Feb. 1.

Varsity and junior high cheer teams took the mat at Azusa Pacific, competing in the FCC West Coast National Championships, Feb. 1.

Overcoming illnesses, injuries and late nights of cheering at basketball games, the FC varsity cheer team ended the week by taking home the title of Grand Champions for the second year in a row. Along with this accomplishment, the squad also placed first in their intermediate division.

As multiple students became injured, the team prepared multiple versions of their routine in case of a quick change. Luckily, none were needed as they pushed through and performed.

Cheer coach of over 20 years, Hope Villines has continued her journey coaching at FC for the past seven years. Villines reflects on the Fellowship of Christian Cheerleaders competition and the team aspect of cheerleading.

“What I love about Fellowship of Christian Cheerleaders,” Villines said, “is that it’s a Christian organization and it’s highly respected. It’s also awesome being reminded that cheer is a sport and we need to be competitive, but we need to put God first. FCC will always do that. They put God first and that’s our goal. With all the injuries, the girls were the epiphany of iron sharpens iron. I can’t even describe their perseverance and determination.” 

FC cheer teams attended the Fellowship of Christian Cheerleaders’ cheer camp as well as their West Coast Competition. As the talk of cheer grows through the new Netflix show Cheer, Villines shares how it connects to the team.

“I think the coaching style is very similar,” Villines said. “I also think this team has a lot of heart, passion and tenacity. I think we have our own Jerrys. I truly believe we simulate a lot of what that series is about. I think Netflix did a great job on it because that’s real competitive cheer.”

After settling into their hotel Friday, the girls spent their free time around the hotel. A team dinner followed at the Old Spaghetti Factory

In the following podcast, journalist Faith Monroy interviews cheer coach Hope Villines about the FCC West Coast Nationals, Feb. 4.

The night before the big day, the team gathered for a night devotion. Captains, Kayden Marquez, ‘20, Danielle Foster, ‘20, and Morgan Parker, ‘21, shared words of encouragement before ending with a team prayer. 

Senior Marquez shares her experience performing only a week after her injury. Her favorite part of the trip included the team dinner and bonding.

“We had 7 a.m. practices every Wednesday and weekday mornings,” Marquez said. “We had several injuries, many people sick and a few hospital stays. In the end, the team didn’t let those inconveniences stop them. It was the best feeling to win at FCC. Not only did we win our division, but overall West Coast Champions. It’s amazing that my senior year I got to win with my team. Having dinner with the team the night before was a great way to come together before the next morning.”

Both junior high and high school teams are coached by head coach Villines as well as Courtney Raymundo and Rayna Harris. Junior high placed second in their novice division, completing their routine with zero deductions. Marquez shares some of the sentiments she has felt over the year.

“We have had so many obstacles in our way,” Marquez said, “but performing the routine was not only a sigh of relief but proof that we can make it through challenges. It was a hard journey to get there but in the end it all paid off by winning West Coast Grand Champions”

Braden Bell | The Feather Online

Cheer captains (left to right), Danielle Foster, ’20, Kayden Marquez, ’20, and Morgan Parker, ’21, pose with their awards, Feb. 1.

Dancer of 13 years, Bella Rodriguez, ‘22, shares her experience as a first year cheerleader. Her favorite memory in cheer consists of being scared by the captains at cheer camp.

“It has been an amazing first year,” Rodriguez said. “I’m a dancer and I’ve never done anything like cheer before so I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and try something new, everyone was super supportive. Competing for the first time as a cheerleader was actually very similar to competing in dance. I had immense adrenaline and a lot of fun.”

Located in the Azusa Pacific University Felix Event Center, teams competed from all over the West Coast. While switching divisions and categories, the Azusa Pacific Acrobatics and Tumbling team performed.

After all teams completed their routines, cheerleaders were given the opportunity to participate in a jump and tumbling competition against others in their age category. Paige provost, ‘21 and Olivia Tucker, ‘22, placed first in the ‘Jump Jam’.  

Before advancing to awards, FCC staffers encouraged parents and athletes to participate in time of worship.

FC senior cheerleaders will be recognized alongside basketball players for Senior Night at the next home game against Kings Christian, Feb. 7.

Make sure to come and support FC cheer as they compete at the Clovis West Pep and Cheer Showcase, Feb. 8.

The following video features a documentary on the cheer team’s road to competition.

For more articles, read COLUMN: Seniors travel to Israel for a new perspective on scripture or Bryson Graham breaks school record, earns The Fresno Bee Player of the Week.

Morgan Parker can be reached via email and via Twitter.

The following slideshow includes images of the varsity cheer team winning the FCC West Coast National Championships, Feb. 1.

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