Varsity cheer wins first-ever CCS Cheer Championship

Amy Yu and

The Palo Alto High School varsity cheer team is practicing for its Spring Showcase after a surprise win at the first-ever Central Coast Section Cheer Championship, on Feb. 2 in San Jose.

Members of the Paly varsity cheer team pose for their last stunt. The team started learning its choreography for the Wilcox School Cheer competition and the CCS Cheer Championship in mid-November. “It took us eight hours afterschool to learn the dance, cheer and stunts,” sophomore varsity cheerleader Charlize Nguyen said. Photo: Jenna Hickey

The CCS Championship was the second competition the team attended after a four-year break from competitions. The first competition of the season for the Vikings was the Wilcox High School Cheer Competition on Jan. 26.

“We were all happy to win our first competition at Wilcox, but I don’t think any of us expected to win – let alone place – at CCS,” sophomore varsity cheerleader Charlize Nguyen said.

Varsity head coach Lea Santini said she did not know what to expect since it was the first CCS Cheer Championship in history, but she was amazed by the team’s resiliency.

“We have had every curveball thrown our way,” Santini said. “Despite all obstacles, the team continues to prevail by being dedicated, persistent, and determined with an incredible work ethic.”

Senior varsity cheer captain Kimiann Sano said she is proud of the team’s hard work and dedication.

“Winning first place in our division was so rewarding,” Sano said. “I believe that this is just the start for Paly Cheer.”

According to Santini, the team has been preparing for competitions since August. She also mentioned that the team has been working with Paly’s strength and conditioning coach in addition to its regular practices.

“With my background in personal training, it was imperative to ensure the team built a solid foundation to be the best athletes we could possibly be,” Santini said.

The team began learning its competition choreography in mid-November, according to Nguyen.

“We’ve been practicing this routine for a while,” Nguyen said. “It took lots of dedication and hard work to perfect.” 

According to Santini, the CCS Championship was the team’s last competition for this school year, but they will still be cheering at varsity basketball games. She also said the team is practicing for its Spring Showcase on May 7.

For next season, Santini said she hopes for the team to compete in local and regional competitions.

“By competing at regionals [next year], we have the chance to receive a bid to compete for the national title in Disneyland,” Santini said.