‘Nothing feels better than being back on the mats as a team’
The University of Asia and the Pacific is a relatively young university, founded in 1967 and was originally called Center for Research and Communications (CRC). It was officially given its present name only in 1995. Though it has a budding cheering tradition, the UA&P Firestarters have consistently placed in the Top 3 in WNCAA Cheer competitions.
Now that the WNCAA Cheer Competition is back, their aim is to finally bag the championship trophy. “It feels good to be back at face-to-face training because I get to work with my teammates again and we get to bond during training hours. Being back at training means getting back in shape and having to learn more and improve more. I also felt excited because being back at training is something to look forward to after an exhausting day,” said team captain Aleah Ocampo.
Member Andrea Alcantara felt anxious and pressured but at the same time now feels great that trainings are back. “As one of the pre-pandemic members I entered the team as a rookie in 2019 and now I’m a senior, I’ve experienced multiple mental and physical changes during the pandemic which causes anxiety and insecurity coming back to face-to-face training.”
The team had two batches of veteran graduates who left the squad during the pandemic and the present members feel they have huge shoes to fill. During the lockdown they had the challenge of keeping the team together.
Alcantara adds how this season’s training felt different, “Our remaining members from the pre-pandemic batch also have to adjust to new members, despite having different skill points, we all have to revisit our basics and we all have to make an effort when it comes to regaining the strength we used to have. Nevertheless, nothing feels better than being back on the mats as a team and it’s very exciting as well as we have to create our unique team chemistry for this batch so that we can perform and compete with good teamwork, confidence, and cohesiveness.”
Another member Gwen Biron recalls being stagnant and not exercising during the pandemic, how hard it was to adjust initially. “Our coach, Ajjie Mendelebar, guided us step by step and gradually increased the intensity of our sessions to ease us back into training. I feel stronger and more fit, but I think there is still room for improvement to be ready to compete.”
“Overall, being able to step in the cheer mats made me realize how much we missed because of the pandemic. It was a clear sign that we need to get back on track and train hard as a team to make sure that we are able to do our responsibilities as student athletes,” said another Firestarter, Angeline Gragasine.
Watch the UA&P Firestarters in the WNCAA Cheerdance Competition on May 13, 2023 at the Rizal Coliseum.
Each team competing at the WNCAA Season 53 Cheerdance Competition can submit a vlog entry promoting their school, their team and the competition to firstname.lastname@example.org