Pierce houses collegiate cheer program
Home to an athletic cheer team and a competition team, the Pierce College cheerleading program brings school spirit to athletic sports while the other tumbles to victory in cheer tournaments.
Led and trained by Jenny Ghilgia, one team practices on campus while the other meets in Simi Valley’s Cheer Force Academy. In fact, her team performed well enough to have scored a spot to compete in Daytona, Fla. for the National Cheerleading Association.
“We won first place in nationals for JAMfest,” Ghilgia said. “We don’t have to send in proof that we’re good. A bid to nationals is a great award and honor to the team.”
Going into the competition squad’s third year as a team, 13 of the 20 campus cheerleaders find themselves dedicating time to both squads, according to Ghilgia. These athletes are collegiate students who make sure the audience cheers with them.
Junior Dulce Rendon, majoring in liberal studies in education, chose to attend Pierce for its cheer sideline program and once Ghilgia opened the competition squad, Rendon played the part as well.
“Other schools in the area have cheer but they’re at a high school level,” said Rendon. “I came to Pierce because of cheer. It’s an actual college-level team.”
According to Rendon, her involvement in cheer throughout high school and Cheer Force led her to utilize the program Pierce facilitates in the athletics department. Ghilgia creates an established team of cheerleaders with both beginners and veteran cheerleaders.
“Coach Jenny will take you. She makes us a team,” said Rendon. “She’ll train you and do her best to get you to par. But if you have cheered before, I’d recommend the [competition] squad.”
The competition squad is planning on competing in Unite Spirit Association (USA), Nationals during the spring semester, stated Rendon.
USA is a program that specializes in spirit, dance, and band activities. Throughout the summer, the organization hosts events and programs where multiple teams perform and compete.
Sophomore Xiomar Sanchez, 19, cheered in high school but so far, has chosen not to cheer for Pierce.
“I didn’t think of joining because before, I’ve heard some negative comments about them,” said Sanchez. “But now honestly, it makes me want to join because I see that the team is committed. I like the cheer spirit and I like tumbling. I’ll hopefully join next year.”
Ghilgia uses her coaching skills to teach her new students the basics of cheerleading and how to improve their skills. For the competition squad, she wants athletic ability, experience and leadership qualities that can run a crowd.
“The squad’s award is doing a great season and looking collegiate to make sure the audience cheers with us,” Ghilgia said. “The glory of cheer is being part of both athletic and college spirit. I get so many people wanting to be a part of cheer squad now. It’s amazing.”
For more information on the program, contact Ghilgia at firstname.lastname@example.org.