Fairmont Private Schools — Anaheim Hills Campus student Thalia R. (4th grade) has a lofty goal to achieve this year: a first place trophy at the 2018 Pop Warner National Cheer & Dance Championships.
For Thalia, this dream isn’t far from being a reality. In the 2017 championship, she and her cheerleading team, the Yorba Linda Jaguars, came in second place in the competition of over 400 teams.
“We were just hoping [we would be in the top five, so] our names would at least be called out,” Thalia said.
Little did she know, her team wouldn’t just have their name recognized, but they would place second in the nation!
Thalia’s success in cheer is of little surprise when looking at her history with the sport. The joyful 4th grader began cheering in kindergarten and has loved it ever since. The love of cheer is a family trait as Thalia’s mom, Natalie, cheered through her middle school and high school years.
“It’s a little bit nostalgic because I cheered for Yorba Linda,” Natalie said.
Natalie’s favorite part of watching her daughter follow in her footsteps is witnessing the lifelong friendships Thalia is building with her teammates and their families.
“It’s nice to see her with the same group of people,” Natalie said of Thalia’s five year run with the Yorba Linda Jaguars. “There are so many more people watching out for her.”
Natalie and Thalia have found a sense of family and support with their cheer team, but also at Fairmont Private Schools where the close-knit community of staff and students root for Thalia to succeed. During the 2017 Pop Warner National Cheer & Dance Championships, staff members reached out to Natalie asking about the competition and Thalia’s results, including Campus Director Dr. Kevin Rafferty.
“Dr. Rafferty messaged me when we [were competing in the nationals] to see how we did,” Natalie said, explaining how much it meant to her.
With a loving support system behind her, Thalia plans to work hard to reach her goal of placing first at the national championship next year. She’s joined a gym with their own cheer team that will allow her to continue cheering during her team’s off-season. This extra practice will help even out the competition at nationals, too, as some cheer teams practice year round. This can make it difficult for the teams who practice for only part of the year.
The extra work should also help Thalia reach her goals of one day becoming a cheer coach for a high school team and to be a “demo” during her high school years. As a demo, Thalia would have the opportunity to help young teams like hers with choreography.
Regardless of what her future in cheer ultimately leads to, we hope her practices and performances include lots of “stunting.” The cheerleading move of lifting up another girl into the air is Thalia’s favorite.
“I’m the one lifting because I’m stronger than most,” Thalia says humbly, but with just the right amount of confidence trailing her statement.
The type of confidence needed to place first in a national cheer competition.