The beginning of UAAP Season 77 marks the beginning of heart-stopping bass drums, high-level performances, and unending cheers given forth by the DLSU Animo Squad.
With La Salle looking to complete a three-peat in the UAAP General Championship race, theAnimo squad will be with the Lasallian community every step of the way, to keep the Animo burning.
Last season’s success
Game after game,members of the DLSU Animo Squad cheer their hearts out for the Lasallian athletes competing on the playing field. Their effort and determination to keep the Lasallian community in tune during games are a proof of their undying commitment to the University and its community. Though their actions might be overshadowed during the course of the games, when it is their time to perform, they do everything it takes to keep the crowd on their feet.
The DLSU Animo Squad’s third place finish in last season’s UAAP Cheer Dance Competition (CDC) came as a big surprise after they failedto make a podium finish during Season 75. With their camouflage outfits and rifle props, the squad gave the massive crowd of more than 20,000 people a terrific show. The squad scored 596.5 points in the competition while Ana de Leon received the UAAP CDC Stunner Award.
The UAAP is not the only stage wherein the Animo Squad has shined. Last year’s Asia Cheerleading Invitational Championship (ACIC) 2014 saw members of the Animo Squad and DLS-CSB’s Pep squad winning the gold medal in the All-Girl Elite Team Cheer division. The two schools merged as one and called their squad, “The Blazing Archers” during the competition, which was held in Singapore last March 29. “We actually started competing three years ago, and Team Philippines consistently won gold [medals] for the first three years. But competition rules changed a little bit, so it needed college universities as teams,” says head coachAndroGarde on why they teamed up with the DLS-CSB Pep squad.
Though cheerdance competitions are one of the few instances where we can see the Animo Squad perform at a high level and intensity, their half-time performances during games are nothing short of spectacular as well. The half-time time performance of the Animo Squad during Game Three of the basketball finals against UST last season gave the Lasallian community and the Green Archers a huge boost in terms of animo. The crowd was fueled with hype as former Green Archers and current PBA players paraded on the court with La Salle’s championship banners in their hands, reminding the Lasallian community of the championship legacy of DLSU. The Lasallian community never went silent after the performance, boosting the Green Archers who eventually sealed the championship.
The Animo Squad annually conducts a “hell week” wherein aspirants are required to dress up in unique outfits and sometimes perform routines on campus. The one week activity is said to be a training ground for the cheering that an Animo Squad member would have to perform for a whole season.
This year’s hell week, however, was different from the past years as the aspirants’ yells of Lasallian spirit were limited only to the walls of the Enrique M. Razon Sports Center. Moreover, the “hell day” wherein the aspirants would be gathered around every part of school at the same time to cheer was also discontinued. The recent buzz about hazing and on-campus violence led the squad to take a different approach for their initiation week. “Sabawat places dapat ng school mag chi-cheer sila [AnimoSqaud aspirants], ngayon di siyanangyari,” says co-captain Gel Kapunan.
New faces, same old Animo
With the incoming K-12 educational program expected to limit the set of enrollees for the next two years, the Animo Squad recruited more aspirants this year compared to previous years. “We might have lesser recruits for the next couple of years so we have our biggest number with about 120 to 130 [members] right now so we have a lot of rookies on the team. It’s about 60 percent made of rookies, 30 percent seniors, and a few alumni who come back to help us out cover the last 10 percent,” says Garde.
Cheska Chua was one of the rookies that stood out during training according to co-captain Gel Kapunan. A gymnast, the St. Paul College alumna also participated in ACIC 2014 and hopes to make use of her gymnast skills in lifting stunts.
Despite the abundance of rookies in the squad, Kapunan is confident that they will do well and learn the ropes quickly. Though she admitted that they needed to work on their lifting stunts as their all-girls team annually competes in the NCC, she assures that the squad will do fine in the long run. Garde also praises the rookies’ performance saying, “They’re progressing really well actually. Considering there’s a lot of them, I think they see the part they have to be for the next couple of years.”
Though most of the recruits are walk-in applicants and that not all of the members are given full-scholarships like what other schools provide, Garde is proud of the work all the members put in.
“We’re really proud of the fact that we train our kids from the ground up so that they know our system,”Garde concludes.