UAAP: Rebuilding Animo Squad gears up for CDC comeback in Season 84

After a long hiatus, the DLSU Animo Squad gears up for the upcoming UAAP Cheerdance Competition.

Like any other sporting team, the DLSU Animo Squad was not spared from unprecedented challenges brought about by the onset of the pandemic. Rigorous hours of in-person training sessions were no longer possible, leaving them with no choice but to settle for simultaneous home workouts behind the screen just to keep them in peak physical condition.

Despite these efforts, there is no doubt that online training is no match compared to the effectiveness and intensity of face-to-face training, especially if the team needs to polish their performance as a collective unit.

With the general easing of lockdown restrictions, the Animo Squad is jumping back to action, with hopes of reclaiming lost time as they prepare for the highly-anticipated UAAP Cheerdance Competition (CDC).

Adjusting  to the ‘old’ normal

As the team returned to face-to-face training, one of the toughest obstacles was the individual physical conditioning of the team. Coach Ramon Pagaduan IV reveals that a member unfortunately suffered an injury shortly after entering the bubble. “Sa day two ng face-to-face namin, nagkaroon kami agad ng injury tapos medyo malala ‘yung injury. So, iba pa rin talaga ‘yung face-to-face kaysa sa online kasi nga hindi mo talaga physically seen ‘yung bata eh,” he explains.

(One of the members sustained a severe injury on the second day of face-to-face training. After this, we realized that the online setup was far different because you cannot physically monitor members of the team.)

Team Captain Lance Lacsamana echoes the sentiments of their head coach and admits that it took some time before the team adjusted. He discloses that the squad had two-hour training sessions every Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during the online setup. Now that they are back to in-person training, their training hours would last for at least four hours every day, prompting newer members of the squad to adjust significantly. But he says this became beneficial to the team, “Mas marami kaming nagagawa compared dati na conditioning lang. Ngayon, mas nagagawa namin ‘yung mga…cheering elements and all.”

(We were able to do a lot more compared to just physical conditioning. We were able to finally incorporate cheering elements during training.)

While he earned his role as the team captain of the squad during the online setup, their bubble training gave Lacsamana a better perspective on how to lead his teammates. “‘Pag dating sa face-to-face [training], mas na-hahandle or mas nakikita ko sila kung ano ‘yung reactions nila, ano ‘yung mental [and] physical capabilities and all.”

(When it comes to face-to-face training, I get to handle or see more of their reactions, their mental [and] physical abilities, and all.)

Despite mentioning different hurdles brought by the bubble setup, the team remains excited for the future. “Everyone’s looking forward to it (the CDC). Tapos I think ‘yung morale ng team, high especially knowing na isa ‘yung sport namin sa nakabalik agad this season,” Lacsamana expresses.

(I believe that the team’s morale is high, especially knowing that our sport is returning this season.)

More than anything, Lacsamana emphasizes the importance of building a stronger bond during the bubble setup. “The setup gave us the chance to build chemistry with each other, kasi nagsimula na ‘pag okay ‘yung relationship, mas okay ‘yung patungo sa mats,” he remarks.

(When the relationships within the team are doing well, the performances going back to the mats will be even better.)

Doing what it takes

Inspired by their daily mantra, the Animo Squad is taking it one day at a time to achieve their goal of outdoing themselves and their previous standings. “Mantra namin every magsimula ‘yung training sinasabi namin, ‘Today, I will surpass yesterday with the help of my teammates, my coach, and myself,’” the team captain shares.

(Our mantra before every training session is…)

The team believes that they can achieve greater things this season, especially if the dedication comes from within. “Laging sinasabi ni coach sa amin na he doesn’t expect us [to focus on our opponents]. Parang hindi namin priority to beat other teams, he just wants us to beat ‘yung mga sarili namin,” Lacsamana narrates.

(Our priority is not to beat other teams. Instead, he wants us to surpass what we have set for ourselves.)

In preparation for the upcoming UAAP Season 84 CDC, the Green-and-White are working hard to get better everyday. With the help of their coaches, their main focus is on working together as they go along in their journey for desirable results. “Kaya nila…kaya nilang talunin ‘yung sarili nila this coming [CDC]. Kailangan they work together, kasi without each other, walang mangyayari,” Pagaduan discloses.

(They have the capability…they can challenge themselves in the upcoming CDC. They have to work together because without each other, they won’t be able to reach their goals.)

Regardless of what the outcome may be, everyone is set on their goal to bring pride to DLSU. “The team did their best and they will represent the University well,” says Pagaduan.

Eager to make a comeback from back-to-back eighth place finishes in the last two seasons, the Animo Squad will represent the Green-and-White once again this May at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Andrea Ysobel Bacolor

By Andrea Ysobel Bacolor

Mikaela Vallesteros

By Mikaela Vallesteros

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