The Gauchos cheer team performs a stunt during a Saddleback home football game. (Angel Grady/Lariat)
Go to any Saddleback College basketball or football game and you will see more than just cheering fans and popcorn stands. The Saddleback Cheer team has been a staple part of athletics here on campus for as long as anyone can remember and now is your chance to be apart of it.
Saddleback Cheer will be holding tryouts for the 2016-2017 season toward the end of the month on May 25 in the Saddleback campus gym. It is an opportunity for new and current students to get involved and be a part of the Saddleback Community.
It is a chance for students to make friends and continue their love for performing and cheer. Cheerleader Alyssa Ernst credits Saddleback cheer for some of her closest friendships.
“I’m originally from Folsom which is in Northern California and I moved down here for school, so I had no friends. The cheer team provided me with a family and all of my friends,” Ernst said. “Every single person I’ve met is through cheer whether it was someone from my squad or the football players. Both the teams were like a family this year and the boys were so appreciative of us.”
Saddleback Cheerleader of two years, Sara Azmoudeh, says that it made transitioning socially a little bit more easy.
“I would definitely say my freshman year for sure. It made things a little bit more exciting, it made it easier to adapt. You’re instantly meeting 30 people that it gives more chances to grow, network and meet more people. A lot of people for a lot of intense friendships.
Since this a non-competitive team, a strict cheer background is not required.
Azmoudeh also says that it is great option for people of all backgrounds. While she has a background of high school cheer herself, she encourages anyone with a passion for performance to tryout, even without a cheer background.
“The cool thing about Saddleback Cheer is that you don’t just have to be a cheerleader, you could a dancer, a gymnast and quality you really have that is performance ready, whatever you’re able to bring,” Azmoudeh said. “The coach likes to have a mixture of everything.”
Ernst, who has been cheering since she was 6 years old, supports that statement saying that there are girls with little experience that do make it. However, she does recommend for candidates to try to get some dance experience prior to the tryout.
“I recommend everyone to tryout. I know girls who have little experience who have made it. However, having either dance or cheer experience does help,” Ernst said. “A lot of the girls will help you out I your struggling with some part of the tryout.”
Seeing that the Gaucho cheer team is non-competitive, one should not assume that these girls don’t train like it, because they certainly do. The cheer team not only a big time commitment, but is also challenging.
The team practices almost everyday, along with cheering at every basketball and football game. Cheerleader Valentina Dates says that it was personally a very big commitment.
“It is a big commitment to be on the cheer team. You have practice Monday, Wednesday, Friday and then games on Saturday,” Dates said. “You need to be ok with giving up your Saturday’s afternoon until late to cheer on your gaucho boys. You only occasionally have night practice, for the most part it’s all morning practices.”
Fortunately for Saddleback Cheer, the Gaucho basketball and football teams have made it to state these past two years, winning state in the 2014-2015 year. For Azmoudeh, this was a highlight.
“The coolest thing about Saddleback Cheer are the team’s that you’re cheering for. Last year, my freshman year, we won state with basketball and that was an awesome experience,” Azmoudeh said. “Everyone was genuinely passionate about what was going on and what they were doing, and just being a part of something bigger than themselves.”
If you happen to be interested, keep in mind that it isn’t free.
Along with a time commitment, the team requires a financial commitment. Fees primarily surrounds uniforms and a summer camp fee. Those with questions about any of these commitments should attend orientation on May 18th or contact Coach Denise Harris.