The UAAP Season 81 Cheerdance Competition is just a few days away, and the Animo Squad is vigorously preparing for this year’s competition. After last year’s disheartening outcome, team captain Lara Andrada and head coach Ramon Pagaduan remain optimistic for the squad despite the many setbacks they’ve been experiencing so far.
Despite placing in a near last place standing, the Animo Squad sees the positive side of their performance. According to Andrada, it was the first time that the squad managed to pull off a near-perfect and clean routine during a performance. However, the squad has been experiencing some turbulence while preparing for the competition this year.
Pagaduan, with a new system in place for the Animo Squad for this season, expects the team to make it to the top three. Pagaduan expresses his main concern with the lack of gymnasts to perform the tumblings during the cheerdance competition. “Right now, the team has no gymnasts kasi, so basically kasi pagdating sa tumbling maiiwan kami,” he says.
(Right now, the team does not have gymnasts, so we might get left behind in the competition when it comes to tumbling.)
Even with with a weakness in sight, coach Pagaduan knows that there are other factors like dancing and cheering that may help the Taft-based squad sneak in to top three. “May half ang dance, half ang cheer elements, eh yung routine namin marami ang dance…but syempre we can’t say kasi [ano masasabi ng] judges pa rin. Sa technical side kasi ‘pag if I see na cheerleading lang, top three lang talaga,” Pagaduan asserts.
(The competition is split into dance and cheer elements…the judges still make the calls, but if we are to look in the technical side of cheerleading, I can say we might make it to the top three.)
Rookies and routines
Andrada shares some difficulties during their preparation; one issue is their line up. There had been some problems with keeping the line-up for this year intact as it often changes due to the injuries some members of the squad have acquired while training. With this, some of the official performers have to sit out come November 17. Fortunately, the squad is working hard to make do with the case of having injured teammates For the first time, the squad is allowing three rookies to participate in this year’s UAAP performance. The three rookies joining the squad on the mats are Jin Salosagcol, Errol Velasco, and Kaito Sekiguchi. In addition, two members decided to take up graduate school in order to help out the squad; returning performers are Poven Visaya and Martin Benedicto.
When it comes to their routine, the polishing may come down to the final stretch. “Medyo clutch yung this year pero kasi nandiyan naman nag-ga–guide yung coaches,” Andrada says as she describes their routine preparation.
(This year’s routine is a bit rushed but then we have the coaches to guide us.)
The Animo Squad already posted a teaser to what the theme might be on their official Facebook page, and Andrada describes the theme and the routine to be “very, very, very fun.” Along with the routine, Andrada also mentions that their props are going to be “bigger than ever.“ Everyone is hands-on for the competition, and the dedication of all squad members are present, whether they are competing or not. Andrada sees that the squad is willing to help and give their all for the performance.
Motivation: underdog status
Going into this year’s cheerdance competition, Andrada knows that the Animo Squad still has the “underdog” label in the UAAP cheerdance world. Andrada states that the Animo Squad is probably the only team that does not offer scholarships to recruited gymnasts or cheerleaders, and most recruits from the squad are homegrown. Andrada is confident that even if they cannot “match” with other teams, the Animo Squad still gives 100 percent in their trainings and use their being the underdog as motivation.
(It’s only us that’s left who doesn’t offer scholarships to be able to recruit gymnasts or cheerleaders.)
The DLSU Animo Squad will look to make a bigger mark in the annual UAAP Cheerdance Competition on November 17 at the Mall of Asia Arena.