Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

February 17, 2004 > With the Greatest of Ease!

With the Greatest of Ease!

The beat goes on and each count elicits movement from the team of cheerleaders practicing for their next competition. This group is not cheering for the local sports team or moving to the tunes of a high school band. Competitive cheerleading is primarily a club sport that relies on precision movements, tumbling and gymnastic moves based on hours and hours of team practice to place every member in just the right spot at the right time. "Flyers" are catapulted to balance and pose on the third level of a tight pyramid and then quickly fall to earth, caught by teammates who then move to different positions, ready for the next stunt.

Competitions between teams across the nation are now televised on ESPN and have captured the imagination and attention of both sexes of school age through collegiate competitions. This is said to be the fastest growing co-ed and female competitive sport in the United States. Definitely not for the faint of heart, the sport requires strength, stamina and energy in copious amounts. Practice sessions often last for hours and are held several times a week throughout the year. There may be an "off season" for competition, but without year-round practice, teams cannot compete with the best.

The Tri-Cities has become home to a new competitive club, "Cheer with a Twist" (CwT). Currently using facilities at Ohlone College, the team will be opening its own permanent facility this fall. Directors and Coaches, Charisse Ibarra and Melanie Warden are excited about the progress of the two teams currently competing for CwT. The first year "novice" class teams are doing well in competition and enjoy their time together.

Charisse comments that team members are able to express themselves through the competitive atmosphere, yet must work together as a team, supporting each other whatever happens. They are learning "sportsmanship, team play and individual play as well." She adds that they all have fun and a benefit for the competitors is learning how to deal with the ups and downs of life - to understand and overcome complications, conflicts and obstacles and achieve success in a safe and supportive environment. As a former competitive gymnast, Charisse brings her expertise to the group while Melanie has extensive knowledge of cheerleading moves and choreography. Chris Warden, Certified Athletic Trainer & Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist also works with the teams.

Talking with Senior Team members (grades 7 - 12) at practice one evening, they appear to be enjoying themselves even though the routines are strenuous and demanding. Taking a break, Heather says the sport looked like a lot of fun when watching it on T.V. while Katie says the competitive aspect is what attracts her. CwT has two girls named Amber, one wants to improve her tumbling skills and the other enjoys the exercise. Kelly loves dancing; Amanda is "a very competitive person and Allie wants to be good at a sport and loves "flying" in the air. Ashley likes this team because "it's fun" and Kaila agrees. "It's a rush for me," says Elina. Sabrina watched the sport on T.V. and decided she would like to try it. Felicia wanted to have fun and adds, "So here I am!" Caseara wanted to try out the sport and see the difference from school cheerleading. The laughter and camaraderie of the teammates is infectious and it is evident that besides the hard work of practice and competition, they are all having fun!

On another evening, the Youth Team, grades 3 - 6, took a few minutes away from their practice and echoed the comments of the Senior Team members. They were excited about their next competition in Stockton and were looking forward to a trip to participate in national competition at Anaheim.

Athletes who are members of a cheer gym compete solely against other competitive gyms. These gyms train girls and boys, ages 5 and older, the safe and proper techniques of stunting, tumbling, motions and dance. Athletes then take all these elements and perform a choreographed routine at various competitions starting in the local vicinity and working up to a nation-wide level.

All Star teams around the nation compete for the purpose of qualifying for All Star Nationals, which is the equivalent of the Super bowl for professional football athletes. At All Star Nationals, the best of the best compete to be called National Champions. The All Star teams with Cheer with a Twist, accomplished an unusual feat for a first year gym - they qualified for Nationals! [Note: Last weekend, at the North Coast UCA Championships, the Seniors earned first place honors and the Youth Team placed second in an extremely close competition.]

On March 12, 2004, Cheer with a Twist will take their 13 Senior team members to Orlando, Florida to compete in the 2004 Universal Cheerleading Association All Star Nationals. On March 26, 2004, their Youth team which consists of 3rd-6th graders will travel to Anaheim, CA to compete in the 2004 United Spirit Association All Star Nationals. Ms. Ibarra says, " It is not only an exciting experience for the girls, but it a dream for anyone who is or has been a cheerleader to go to Nationals and compete for the title as National Champions."

Cheer with a Twist's mission is to provide high-quality program where safety and proper technique comes first. The coaching staff is cheer and gymnastic Safety certified, CPR & First Aid certified and are certified by nationally recognized cheerleading organizations. CwT will open its permanent facilities in fall of 2004. Recreation cheer, jump, stunt, tumble and dance classes will be offered to anyone willing to learn.

Cheer with a Twist is looking for members for the 2004-2005 cheerleading season, ages 5 and older; 4 cheer teams, 2 Pom/Dance Teams and 1 College team. No Experience Necessary. Everyone is placed on a team. Tryouts are April 4, 2004 at 12:30pm Ohlone College in Fremont - Building 9, in the gym. For information call 510-324-1922 or visit

Other Cheerleading News:

Local Athletes Help South Bay Elite All-Stars to Bring Home Three National Titles

Local athletes Brooke Brown, Mandy Brown, Kendal Mason, Nicolette Magbuhat and Dana Sassenberg are competing with an experienced team based in Campbell. In December, this team returned from Las Vegas, Nevada where they were able to capture three national Cheer titles at the American Grand national Cheerleading Championship Tournament. Teams from New York, Maryland, Louisiana, Florida, Arkansas, Arizona, Texas, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and several other areas, entered the competition. Competition was in the Large Advance Junior (9th Grade and under with more than 30 members), Large Advance Senior All-Star Cheer (12th Grade and under with more than 25 members) and Small Advance Senior Coed All-Star Cheer (12th Grade and under with one to four male members on the team).

At a recent competition, the team captured first place in the three divisions entered and received the "Victory Cup" for the highest score for the day.

South Bay Elite All-Stars can be reached through their website at or at (408) 370-3099.

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