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DLSU Animo Squad: Regaining Confidence

By Paolo Mariano Posted Sep 10th 2013

The DLSU Animo Squad hopes to relive their second place finish from two years back.

Two years ago, the DLSU Animo Squad finished in second place in the UAAP Season 74 Cheerdance competition. But, for James Saez, a hard-working Civil Engineering student from the Taft Avenue-based institution, winning second place felt like a lot more.

“Parang championship yung feeling,” Saez said.

The 19-year old Head Cheerleader of the DLSU Animo Squad had a determined look in his eyes. You could feel the intensity through his voice.

“Weeks pa lang before ng compe, hindi kami kinakabahan. Excited kami kasi alam namin na kayang-kaya namin I-hit lahat ng stunts. Gymnastics, pyramid, lahat. Naniniwala kami na kaya namin I-hit lahat sa routine namin. Yun yung na feel ng lahat sa amin.”

Placing in the top three of the UAAP CDC is actually a rarity for La Salle. In fact, it has only happened five times since the inclusion of the event in 1994 (2nd place – 2011, 1998, 1995, 1994. 3rd place – 1996.). So, it is not surprising for a guy like Saez to feel happy about coming in second. It’s obviously way better than finishing in seventh place, which is what happened the following year.

According to Claude Alano, the Head Cheerdancer of the DLSU Animo Squad, they were affected by the high expectations that were suddenly placed upon them.

“We did our best but the pressure got to us,” admitted Alano.

It also did not help that majority of the members of the team were rookies who lacked the experience when it comes to performing inside a huge venue in front of a nationally televised audience. Because of this sudden drop in the performance level, the DLSU Animo Squad underwent some major changes in an effort to make a dent in the UAAP CDC.

The DLSU Animo Squad has installed several coaches to guide its performers with specific roles. Its Head Coach is Ruffa Rosario while Andrew Maravillas focuses on gymnastics. They also have a Stunting coach in the form of Andro Garde. Finally, a position for program manager was created to oversee the development of the team. The position was given to former Team Captain of the DLSU Animo Squad, Tads Carvajal.

In the past, cheerleading was merely an extra-curricular activity for students. Today, it is recognized by the DLSU Office of Sports Development as a sport. That in itself is a major boost as the team is aptly supported by the school just like the other sports teams like basketball and volleyball.

“We’re transitioning into becoming a sports team. We’re providing conditioning, training and exposure for these kids so that they can actually be at their best. We’ve added more structure. It’s not just the cheerleaders and the cheerdancers anymore. We also have the management team wherein we are at the back end. The coaches are in the front end to make sure that the kids would actually deliver a good performance,” explained Carvajal.

Because of these changes, the confidence level among the members of the DLSU Animo Squad is once again sky high, just like it was two years ago.

“Feel talaga namin na kaya namin mag place this year. Yung skills namin mataas, kahit rookies namin, kaya nilang makipagsabayan sa seniors,” said Saez.

Alano was more even more confident when asked about the team’s chances in the upcoming UAAP CDC.

“We can win it. Absolutely. We’re very positive. This year, everything is going so well. All we have to do is perform well on that day. Nail every stunt. We want to show everyone that we can also be known for cheerleading,” said the 19 year old Economics major.

The DLSU Animo Squad is very excited about unveiling their routine on Sunday. As the competition draws near, Carvajal can’t help but feel nervous while watching his athletes run their routine over and over again in practice.

“Every time I look at it. Natatakot ako because it’s really a big jump, a big improvement from last year talaga.”

“They will give the La Salle crowd a good show. It’s going to be fast. It’s going to be heart-stopping.”