It’s a cheerocracy

The cheerleaders at Pierce College have stunted their way to the top. Ending their season with back to back wins, including a win against the University of Southern California.

“It was nice winning against USC. They pay a lot for cheer, and we don’t because we’re a community college,” Jennifer Godoy, kinesiology major, said. “It was nice knowing that we can beat a four-year university.”

Pierce is one of the only community colleges in the valley with a competition team that qualifies to compete against advanced divisions.

“There isn’t any other two-year colleges within the valley other than Pierce that has a competition squad which is why we compete against schools like USC,” Zack Harris, assistant coach, said.

Their success is all due to hard work and dedication.

“I think when you get skilled athletes who really want to get better and want to work on their skills, it makes a huge difference,” Jenny Ghiglia, Cheerleading Coach, said.

“The cheerleaders have been really rocking it. They’ve been winning. They’re placing first, and their scores have been surpassing last years scores. There’s been progression and improvement,” Adjunct Instructor of Dance, Bonnie Hughes said.

It’s not just about looking pretty for the lady Brahmas, it’s about representing Pierce and going beyond the community to let others know who the Brahmas are.

“We’re taking it out there. We’re going out and above saying ‘this is Pierce College,’” Ghiglia said.

The squad competed in Aloha Spirit Championships, a production that hosts cheer and dance events.

The cost to attend these events is $60 per person, but the cheerleaders at Pierce are invited to compete for free.

“Normally we would have to pay, but they understand as struggling students, it’s hard for them to gather money,” Ghiglia said.

The competition squad is also invited by Cheerforce Simi Valley to utilize its gym and equipment for practice.

“I think having the extended community like Cheerforce Simi Valley offering their services to utilize their gym for the safety of my cheerleaders has really helped,” Ghiglia said. “The cheerleaders get to see a true cheer gym with all the equipment that they would need to secure their stunts.”

Despite all the time and effort the cheerleaders put in, they aren’t fully recognized as a sport.

The one question that gets almost every cheerleader fired up and ready to debate is, “is cheerleading a sport.”

“It’s something that’s been going on throughout the years, but I think we’re a sport. We put in a lot of hard work,” Godoy said.

According to Ghiglia, the team receives a lot of support from the school, but there are guidelines that stop Pierce from recognizing them as a sport.

“I think eventually it’ll be considered a sport in all areas,” Ghiglia said. “I’d like to see some of the athletes try to put somebody up, cradle them and catch them. There’s a lot of responsibility to that. It’s not just about their skill. It’s about working as a team to execute a stunt. It is extremely hard and the timing is impeccable.”

Ghiglia hopes to have cheer be recognized as an actual sport within time, along with the rest of the team and supporters.

“They do get somewhat subjugated. Cheer is incredibly difficult and challenging, and it’s every bit as competitive and serious as any other sport,” Hughes said.

This year’s cheer squad has chosen not to have a team captain.

“They’re pretty strong about what needs to get done, no one needs to really lead them,” Ghiglia said. “It helps them work better as a team without having a captain.”