Pajaro Valley Spartans are excited by a recent victory which now sends them to Florida for a cheers championship competition. Shown here are Valerie Fuentes (front row, left), Tita Chavarrfia, Alondra Torres and Liana Tavera. In the back row, from left are Aliyah Herrera, Jayla Renteria, coach Marlene Fernandez, Victoria Rivas and Jocelyn Samudio. (Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian).
WATSONVILLE — A dozen cheerleaders with the Pajaro Valley Spartans are making plans to head to Florida Sunday to compete in the national Pop Warner Championship.
Seventy teams in three different levels will vie for trophies in the four-day event at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
“These talented young women have earned the opportunity of a life time to travel to Florida and compete with the best teams from across the country,” said Arefa Chavarria, cheer director.
Pop Warner Football and Cheer is a national program that has a long history of teaching sportsmanship while stressing scholastics. Any child is able to participate in Pop Warner as there are no try-outs. Football players are guaranteed playing time and all girls are placed on a cheer team. All participants are expected to maintain a 2.0 grade point average during the season and Pop Warner awards scholars with an annual Scholastic Awards banquet and scholarships each year, Chavarria said.
“Central Coast Pop Warner is in its infancy, although in only its 2nd year we have been able to provide the youth in our community activities that will teach them team work, responsibility, and scholastic fitness,” Chavarria said.
The P.V. Spartans beat similar teams of girls, ages 10 to 12, Friday from Washington and California in what Chavarria described as “a surprise shake-up.”
“We were the underdogs,” she said. “No one thought we would come out of nowhere and place. But we did. I am so proud of these girls.”
Spartan member Liana Tavera, 10, said it felt “good to win.”
“Last year we did not get the trophy — we didn’t do so well,” Tavera said. “This time it felt good to make it as far as we did.”
Head coach Marlene Fernandez said the team has a lot of talent.
“Going to Florida is an amazing opportunity for all of us,” she said.
The team typically practices six hours a week at Pajaro Valley High School in whatever room is available. Natalia Valdivia also coaches for the team.
Chavarria said the team is struggling to defray the $16,000 cost of sending the team.
“WE hope people from the community can come forward and help out with a donation,” Chavarria said. “Without financial support from the community the team will miss out on an opportunity that they have worked extremely hard for and may cherish forever.”
Chavarria suggested these options for people to help:
• Donations can be made to PayPal account HYPERLINK "mailto:email@example.com" firstname.lastname@example.org.
• A pancake breakfast on Saturday at Applebee’s, 1105 S. Green Valley Road from 7:30-10 a.m. Cost, $7.
• Movie night, showing “Elf,” at Church of the Nazarene, 710 Green Valley Road from 6-9 p.m. Friday. Cost, $5 donation, snacks, $1.
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