By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
The Port Isabel High Silver Tarpon Marching Band isn’t the only group of local high school students to get an early start on preparing for the new school year. The cheerleaders have also been putting in some serious hours this summer to make sure they’ll be able to put the right stuff on the sidelines when it’s time for the first football game of the season.
Last week they all attended a cheerleader camp in Edinburg and this week were back in Tarpon Gym as they brushed up on basic skills and worked on new routines.
The Press was able to talk with two senior members of the squad this week and they shared their thoughts on what it means to be a Port Isabel cheerleader.
Karina Vela and Larissa Torres are co-captains of this year’s cheerleading team, and they reported that they’ve been working out together almost since before the end of last school year.
“We started back in June,” Vela said Wednesday. “We’ve been working on the pom routines for camp. Once we got to camp we performed that, and now we’re starting to work on football cheers and stunts.”
“I’m really excited,” Torres said. “It’s our senior year so we need to make everything count. It’s our last time out there on the field and that’s why, I think, we’re practicing so hard. We want to look good for our last year.”
“They taught us some cheers and some sideline stuff,” Vela said, referring to last week’s camp. “We learned a hip-hop dance, a regular dance. Then we incorporated our own dance into that.”
Competitions were held and the Port Isabel High team did rather well in the different categories. “We got first in the pom routine, first in overall game-day, second in the extreme routine, and second in the cheer,” Vela reported.
The cheerleaders have a new coach this year. She is first-year faculty member Rachel Sims. “It’s not official yet but she came by yesterday and was teaching us basic toe touches, jumps, and all that tumbling,” said Vela.
Vela and Torres are your typical busy Port Isabel High students, as both are much involved in other activities. “I play volleyball, basketball, and softball,” Torres said, and Vela is also athletically active.
Torres was asked about the difficulties of giving sufficient time and effort to everything, including her studies. “It’s about just managing your time and we’ve both been doing that since freshman year. It gets hard at times but we learn how to cope with it.”
Most cheerleaders are football fans and it starts with the fact that, at small schools like Port Isabel, each of them knows many, if not most all, of the guys on the team. “I’ll see some of the guys go (Torres waves her arms overhead) like that, so we help the crowd get excited and that helps a lot. It’s a good feeling when we win and we feel we helped.”
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