Pop Warner cheer team looks for community spirit: Pajaro Valley Spartans advance to national competition
WATSONVILLE, Nov 28, 2012 (Menafn - Santa Cruz Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --The Pajaro Valley Spartans Cheer team is a spirited group of girls.
The team proved that Friday, when the Spartans earned a berth to the national Pop Warner Championship at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
Now the team, part of the Central Coast Pop Warner program, is scrambling to raise more than 16,000 to cover travel expenses to the five-day competition, which starts Sunday.
"They really worked hard and deserve to represent the Pajaro Valley on the national level," said Cheer Director Arefa Chavarria. "I'm hoping our community will pull together to get these girls there."
That the team, in only its second season of competition, was able to score a spot at nationals came as somewhat of a surprise, Chavarria said. The girls, 10- to 12-year-olds, took second at the regional competition last week in Santa Clara to advance to the national competition.
"It was surreal when we heard our name being called out," she said.
Chavarria said the team has little in the way of resources to help the girls make the trip. What little funds organizers have managed to raise for the fledgling organization have gone into equipment and startup costs.
"We don't have any major fundraiser," she said. "We're nickel and diming everything."
Chavarria said cheer offers the girls the chance to grow. In addition to building athletic skills and confidence, they are expected to keep their grades up. Though a C average
is mandatory, most of the girls are honor-roll students, she said.
Many on the team are first-timers who weren't sure cheer was for them, Chavarria said.
The program aims to help them realize their "potential and to break through fears of doing something new."
Victoria Rivas, a fifth-grader at Echo Valley Elementary School in Prunedale, said she is excited to be among the 300 teams from around the country invited to the national competition. But she wouldn't be going if it weren't for her parents, who insisted she choose a sport to play last summer. Nery Rivas said the idea was to keep her daughter occupied and out of trouble.
Victoria, 10, said her parents were right.
"I ended up really liking it," Victoria said.
Follow Sentinel reporter Donna Jones on Twitter at Twitter.com/DonnaJonesSCS
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