Downey High School Cheer Florida Experience

Kailani Fletcher, Writer

Downey High School’s Varsity Cheer team is highly revered for their success in competition. Despite their reputation, most of this year’s team had never experienced such high level competition in Florida. Even through the nerves, many felt prepared to do their best. Overall, much of the team reports feeling like the mix of serious competition and fun times at the Disney parks brought the team closer together and contributed to their successful performance. 


In regard to competition, there were some ups and downs for the team. “We got a three-point penalty on our prelims routine because we actually did an illegal pyramid. Because the rules required an extra spotter to be there and we didn’t have one, we were afraid we wouldn’t get through,” Senior Jimmey Loya explained. “We came back the next day though and added that extra spotter to the routine.” After a rocky first day, the team cleaned up the routine for the next two days of competition. 


Their first performances yielded less impressive results than the team’s later performances. When asked what led the team to reach success by the end of the competition, Varsity Cheer captain Jacob Cortez revealed that their team bond was a huge factor. “It was definitely our bond that helped the most,” Cortez expressed. “Whenever we went out there to compete and whenever we were practicing, I felt like I was out there with twenty six of my best friends and we were just hanging out and having fun.” 


This strong bond is what got the team through three days of early competition against some of the most talented teams in the country. The Vikings ended up taking second in the Game Day routine and eighth in their Co-Ed routine in the Varsity Medium Co-Ed Division. Their success had the team revved for their CIF Southern Section Competition on February 19, 2022. They were ready to take what they learned in Florida and apply it to their upcoming competition. “We did everything we could in Florida. Yes, there were mistakes that happened. Some of those mistakes in Florida never happened before, and those were just nerves that got to us,” Senior Molly Rhodes explained. “That happens because it is a high stakes competition. You are literally on a stage in an ESPN arena.”


Despite the nerves, Downey High’s Varsity Cheer team placed impressively in Florida and went on to secure first place in the CIF Southern Section Competition. Mistakes were learned from and the 2022 Downey High School Varsity Cheer achieved one of their most important goals.