With the first half of the 80th season of the UAAP coming to a close, all of us can agree that it has been a blockbuster of a year for all competing schools. Whether you bleed Green, Blue, or Maroon, it’s safe to say that all universities have had their fair share of ups-and-downs in the past year. With 2017 coming to a close, there’s no better way to end the year by celebrating how proud we are of our alma mater. Today, at the Mall of Asia Arena, the De La Salle University Animo Squad gears up for the UAAP Cheerdance Competition (CDC).
There’s a lot to watch out for in this year’s CDC. On the verge of claiming their fifth straight title, the National University Pep Squad has asserted itself as a force to be reckoned with in Philippine cheerdance. This year is no different as NU has nothing on their sights but the championship. Asides from the NU Pep Squad, after spending a year off from the cheer dance competition, another giant in collegiate Philippine cheerdance is aiming for a comeback. The University of the Philippines Pep Squad is back with a vengeance.
With a lot on the line for all schools in this year’s UAAP CDC and after placing sixth in Season 79, the Animo Squad is definitely not going down without a fight. With a new coach, the Animo Squad has definitely recharged and is prepared for a fight.
New coach, new system, better squad
As everyone continuously asks what makes the Animo Squad different this year, team captain Angela Torres shared what equipped the squad to get them where they stand today. “I think three things make the squad different this year, the preparation, the kind of culture, and the way that the squad behaves this year is very different,” states Torres. The team captain explained that the culture the team is trying to promote now is a good mix of the old and the new. While they still preserve the old traditions that the squad has held since before, they also want to integrate more of the new cheerleading that’s happening today.
In addition, since their training hours have been more extensive and exhaustive lately, Torres shares, “To tell the you the truth, training has been one of the most testing moments all our lives.” Although, she noted that in training, the team is not just being prepared physically but also mentally. She shares, “A lot of our values here have changed, the training has really changed the squad in a better way.”
As this is his first year as the new head coach of the Animo Squad, coach Ramon Pagaduan, gave the Animo Squad a fresh start coming into this season’s cheer dance competition. The new coach emphasized the importance of hard work and discipline as vital factors for the team’s success. Training on days without school would usually last for eight hours and Pagaduan strictly prohibited vices such as smoking and drinking, making Happy Thursday a big no-no for the Taft-based squad. To adjust to Pagaduan’s coaching style, the Animo Squad officially started training as early as August, giving the team just the right amount of time to prepare for the competition.
Highs and lows
Coach Pagaduan and the Animo Squad have had their fair share of ups-and-downs throughout the past few months of training. One factor that hindered the team at the beginning was the lack of manpower in terms of male members, which resulted to the transfer of two boys from the drummers to the cheerleading group in order to fill in the gap.
As most members of the squad are facing some sort of ache and pain, Torres explained, “In the squad kasi we’re always taught na laban and puso.” Despite their injuries, they knew that they still had to keep pushing through because in cheerleading, a team only gets one chance per year to show the country what they have in them. “A lot of people, despite their injuries, they’ll still keep pushing through. Whenever something hurts, we always tell them, ‘it’s just temporary,” shared Torres.
Injuries have also plagued the team, due to their lack of conditioning before Pagaduan’s arrival. But despite all these challenges, Pagaduan would always remind the Animo Squad to face everything together. When asked about how he keeps his team going, he stated, “I always tell them to hit the routine together and face whatever challenges na makita nila during the routine and huwag sila matakot sa pagod…kapag naramdaman nila yung pagod, huwag nilang katakutan, they should embrace it, face it head on with their teammates.” Having each others’ backs is definitely an essential quality that a team must have if they want to succeed.
Expect the unexpected
With everyone having different expectations for the Animo Squad, the head coach shared his own expectations for the team this year. He stated, “My expectation for them is to hit the routine cleanly and whatever happens, kasi may judges, hindi natin malalaman kung ano yung magiging outcome and syempre highly competitive din yung ibang teams.” After serving some time as the former coach of the University of Santo Tomas Salinggawi, Pagaduan definitely took into account his previous CDC experiences during the creation of the routine. He centered his routine around dance and choreography, explaining, “In terms of UAAP, sa scoring niya, napapansin ko lang over the years na I coach sa UST, kapag hindi ka nag-top three sa dance, hindi ka mag-totop three at all, wala kang chance. So sa dance ako medyo nag-prioritize ng konti and sa pinaka choreography ng routine.”
“My expectation for the team’s performance is just that we give a better performance than we gave last year,” said Torres. She shared that their head coach does not necessarily require the team to hit the podium but instead, he looks forward to seeing the team progress and outdo what the squad was able to show last year.
As she looks back from where they began, Torres beamed that each and every member of the squad is thankful for everyone, from the alumni, their other non-competing Animo Squad members, and to the Lasallian community, “They all truly rallied to support the squad throughout the whole preparation process.” The team captain ended saying, “My expectation is that we just hit our routine perfectly and hopefully we give off the energy to everyone na this is what cheerleading is about, this is what the Animo Squad can do.”
Catch the DLSU Animo Squad as they hit the mats later at the Mall of Asia Arena at 2 pm.