Pep Squads take spotlight; Animo Squad eyes first UAAP championship


Amidst the intense action and attention brought about by the ongoing UAAP Men’s Basketball tournament, cheering squads from the eight member schools who usually take the stage in halftime performances will now fully claim the Mall of Asia Arena as their own.

The cheering squads will be diverting the attention of the public for one Sunday afternoon as they showcase their diverse routines in a battle for the elusive and prestigious UAAP Cheer Dance Competition (UAAP CDC) championship.

Indisputably one of the most highly anticipated events in the UAAP despite it bearing no weight in the General Championship race, each of the teams invests a great amount of time, money, and effort with hopes of sealing the crown and being hailed as the best cheering squad in the league.

Already on its 19th year, the UAAP CDC has been dominated by three squads, namely the FEU Cheering Squad with two gold medals in their belt, the UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe with eight championships, and the UP Pep Squad who also have eight first place finishes, but are pegged ahead of UST by three in the total medal count.

Will this year be no different story, or are we bound to witness a new set of finalists this season?

Seen as one of the most promising contenders, the defending champion UP Pep Squad will be gunning for their fourth straight title, a feat accomplished only by the UST Salinggawi Dance Troup when they took five straight golds from 2002 up until 2006. Meanwhile, the NU Cheer Squadron vowed to surprise the audience and finish big this year, after an impressive third place finish last season which gave them their first ever medal in the competition’s history.

The UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe has not been placed in the final three since the year 2010, while the FEU Cheering Squad has consistently made a finals appearance since 2003. Both teams, historically known to clinch the top spots, are on the watchlist of many for this year’s UAAP CDC. Squads from UE, Ateneo, and Adamson, on the other hand, are usually silent in the battle for the top seeds and have only earned one medal each since the competition began in 1994. But likewise, these three teams are hoping to pull off an upset much like NU’s surprise third place finish last season.

De La Salle University’s own Animo Squad is very much in the race for the top spot. After their last finals appearance which saw them grab second place in 2011, the Animo Squad is aiming to finally clinch their first ever UAAP CDC championship.

The Team Captain of the Animo Squad Leaders, Jaymes Saez (IV, CIV), is hopeful of the team’s fate this season, “Ipapakita namin ang puso namin nang buong-buo at lalaban talaga kami this year.”

Coming off their fifth place finish in the previous season, the team promises a more explosive routine which they hope will be enough to displace the league leaders. “Nag-risk kami ng stunts, ng skills, kasi last year nag-play safe kami,” says Saez.

Team Captain of the Animo Squad Dancers Claudine Alano (III, AB-ECM) commends the individual contributions of every member of the team which are needed in order to achieve their common championship goal and she shares, “Lahat nag-level up from last year. Lahat nag-step-up.”

Even if the Animo Squad makes appearances in every game of the different La Salle UAAP teams to support them, plus the halftime performances at all matches played by the Green Archers, the team managed to pull together and find time to create and polish their UAAP CDC routine, sacrificing even Sundays for training. With the three-month long preparation, the Animo Squad is aiming for a great finish this year, with a championship even in sight.

FEU will be the first to take the stage on Sunday, to be proceeded by defending champion UP. Next will be the red warriors from UE, and then DLSU’s own Animo Squad. Following them are season host NU, UST, Ateneo, and finally Adamson. Their performances will be followed by the group stunts category of the competition, to be held in the same order.

Will the Animo Squad dethrone the UP Pep Squad or will we see a four-peat? Will we perhaps witness the reclaim to fame of UST or FEU? In a culmination of months of training and routine revisions, plus risking injuries for their lifts and stunts, the teams will seal their fate on Sunday, at 1:00 PM at the Mall of Asia Arena, before the eyes of thousands of fans in the stands at the UAAP Season 76 Cheerdance Competition.

Dana Uson

By Dana Uson

Rogie Vasquez

By Rogie Vasquez

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