The new coach has selected her varsity squad for the fall 2019 football season, and an interesting phenomenon is that Mom, Delia —who was daughter’s cheer coach for four years at St. Rose of Lima — is now her assistant.
Heading her first program, Elsie Lopez, 24, intends to make the girls “leaders, both on and off the field, to represent their school,” according to Delia. What role does cheer play on campus? “It builds school spirit. It helps the camaraderie and involvement [among students].”
Seniors on the 2019 squad include (with age, and years on varsity, if applicable), Hannah Cluster, 17 (three); Layla O’Laughlin, 17 (three); Jaden Ballardo, 17 (one); Dylan Lyke, 16 (three); and Camila Gonzalez, 16 (two).
Juniors: Esme Avalos (one); Kaitlin Wiltse (two); and Nachesa Supple.
Sophomores: Tayden Schuyler, 15 (two); Lisa Glynne, 14 (two); Kristine Mackey, 14 (two); and Kendall Leonard, 14 (two).
Freshman: Paige Zuckerman, 13. She is presently an eighth-grader finishing middle school at neighboring Muirlands Middle School.
As Delia Lopez explains, these are the sideline cheer student-athletes. A separate sport, sanctioned by CIF, competitive cheer, will start up later in the summer. That sport involves stunts and events in which the Viking team will vie against other cheer squads in official competition. That is the sort of cheerleading that is televised.
“The tryouts in August for competitive cheer will involve girls who are on the sideline cheer squad, because by then, we will be familiar with their attitude and work habits from having worked with them for three months,” Lopez said, taking time between her duties preparing for the school’s graduation ceremony on June 11.
The cheer team members go to summer camp, an annual rite that helps them build unity and connect with spirit squads from other schools, on July 24.
Many of the selectees for the 2019 contingent are returning from last year’s squad. The fact that there is an incoming ninth-grader included shows the continuity of the program between Muirlands Middle School and the high school.
“This is the first year of the program. We are going to build it year by year as we go,” said Lopez. A common misconception about cheerleading is that it is an easy, non-athletic sport. This reporter knows personally of the danger of injury just in sideline cheer. My granddaughter, while a cheerleader at La Jolla High School from 2004-2008, suffered a broken right foot when she was dropped during a practice move. At the time, she was filling the role of the flyer, the cheerleader who is at the top of the tower. Attesting to her dedication to the team, she remained on the squad, while moving to a different position.