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Brawley cheer takes third at camp

August 18, 2001|By CHRIS GRANT, Sports Editor

BRAWLEY — When the Brawley Union High School cheerleaders went to the Universal Cheerleaders Association camp at the University of San Diego last week, they had no idea they'd be coming home with so much hardware.

The Wildcats returned triumphantly from the camp with four trophies. Brawley's varsity cheerleaders took third in the cheer competition. The junior varsity took second in the dance competition and both the varsity and junior varsity were named most improved.

To say they were successful is certainly an understatement.

"I wasn't sure how they'd do," said Brawley cheer coach Kat Hughes. "For most of them this was the first time they'd been at a competition. But they practiced really hard so I figured they'd be OK."

"I knew we could do it," said 16-year-old varsity co-captain Julie Benson. "We just had to go in there with confidence and show them what we're made of."


Said varsity co-captain Nikki Freeman, a 15-year-old junior: "It was kind of nerve-racking. We didn't know what to expect, but we did very well. We're all very proud of the outcome."

One Wildcat cheerleader was not surprised by her team's success.

"Most of us grew up on the Pop Warner squad and we had great experience in regional competition," said 15-year-old Cassandra Caldera, a junior varsity co-captain.

Not only did the Wildcats win four team awards but team member Elaine Vidaurry was named to the competition's all-star team.

"I was really surprised," Vidaurry, a 15-year-old sophomore, said. "I just smiled a lot during the dance competition. I just kept on smiling."

The Brawley team competed against 12 other schools at the camp. Based on the Wildcats' strong finish, the team has been invited to perform in the Hollywood Christmas Parade.

"They made a tremendous improvement," Hughes added. "They worked really hard and listened to everyone. I'm very proud of them."

The team came away from the camp with more than hardware. It came away with a new sense of confidence.

"The camp taught us a lot," said Vidaurry. "We learned a lot in those four days."

"It taught us a lot of new things," concurred Freeman. "It helped with our teamwork and it gives us a good chance to go to the Hollywood Christmas Parade."

The trip to the camp was just one step in Hughes' overall plan for the team. A fourth-grade teacher at Seeley Elementary School, Hughes took over the team last December. She came to the job with plenty of experience. She was a member of the Penn State University dance team and was a cheerleader during high school in Pittsburgh.

While cheerleading competitions might have been new to her team, such events certainly are not new to her.

"This was something we had done," she said. "Our dance team had won state, so I'm familiar with the world of competitive dance and cheerleading."

To a person, the Brawley cheer team members think Hughes has made all the difference in the world.

"There's a lot of difference," said Freeman. "She's more determined to take us to camps. She's a very good coach."

"She's improved Brawley cheerleading," added Caldera.

Hughes is hopeful the camp experience will be the start of a strong year for her team.

"This is an excellent lead in," she said. "We got lots of great ideas for crowd-inspiring action cheers and other things that will surprise the Brawley fans. There's going to be some stuff they haven't seen in a long time.

"They've made a commitment to be at every home game and as many away games as possible. We're trying to increase spirit at games."

Her team members agree, as all involved think this will be a banner year for the Brawley squad.

"We're definitely confident that we can do it and perform in front of people," said Benson, in her first year of cheerleading.

Said Caldera, "This gave us a lot of cheers and dances and things to be entertaining."

"We have a lot of energy and enthusiasm," said 14-year-old Claudia Jauregui, a junior varsity co-captain. "We're having fun and we're going to do our best to make it fun."

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