Cheers without sounds


Dayna Sanchez

Ilianna Delgado, 11, becomes Downey High School’s first deaf cheerleader after trying out on May 16th 2014. “I was pretty nervous but I was really encouraged to dance and get used to the process,” Delgado said, “and I finally got used to it and was able to try out.”

Sophie Prettyman, Staff Writer

Junior Ilianna Delgado, Downey High School’s first deaf student to make the school cheer squad, shared her new experience as a junior varsity cheerleader. Delgado wanted to try out for the squad because of her love for dancing and to meet more people. The tryout process was the same for Delgado as it was for all the other girls hoping to make the cheer squad. “I was pretty nervous, but I was really encouraged to dance and get used to the process, and I finally did get used to it and was able to try out,” Delgado said. “There was a time when I struggled a lot, and I even cried at times, but I kept going and I succeeded.” The fact that she cannot hear made tryouts and cheering difficult at times, but she did not stop trying to achieve her goal. She had to learn the stunts, cheers, and choreography differently than the other girls. “She is really good at picking up things, but it can be a challenge as far as the timing goes,” cheer coach and former Downey High cheerleader Patrick Smith said. Delgado admits that she struggled with the timing and the choreography in the beginning and that was really frustrating for her, but she did eventually become more than capable of cheering. To know when to do certain stunts and cheers, she watches what the other girls on the team are doing or the coach taps her on the back to let her know when to do her stunt. “When she joined the team, she was one of the best girls,” fellow junior varsity cheerleader Danielle Adams said of Delgado. “She’s really enthusiastic and determined to learn everything that we have to teach her.” Delgado enjoys dancing, the choreography, learning how to jump, the gymnastics, the stunts, and meeting new friends on the team. She is glad she joined cheer and encourages others to try out for the team as well or go for anything else they have their hearts set on, regardless of their circumstances. “Try and feel the movement, pay attention to everybody’s movements, feel the rhythm, keep in time with everybody, and practice,” Delgado said. “If you want to, you can succeed at anything.” Delgado is continuing to work hard on the junior varsity cheer team and has competed in some deaf cheer competitions. She hopes to make Downey High’s varsity cheer squad her senior year.