The Cigarroa High School Cheerleaders took top honors at one of the most prestigious cheerleading competitions, the NCA High School Nationals, recently produced by the National Cheerleading Association (NCA) in Dallas, Texas. The mighty Toros were the only Laredo high school cheerleading team to be named state champions and ranked first among the top five in the state.
A team of 19 competitors and six alternates competed in the Intermediate Non-Tumbling Large Varsity Crowd Performance Division and performed two routines without deduction. After two intense days of competition, they finished first out of five teams in the country with a final score of 97.6.
CHS cheerleaders have prepared for excellence through months of intense mental and physical training. “These athletes have worked extremely hard over the years and know what it’s like when the outcome doesn’t go their way. They use those experiences as motivation and let them fuel their drive to win,” said Nataly Ramirez, sponsor and head coach of CHS Cheerleading. “While our competition season may be over, the Cigarroa Spirit program is far from over for the year. Our Toro Spirit Squad will continue to support our Toro basketball teams and our Diamond Doll season will begin in conjunction with the baseball season.”
The Pride of South Laredo “Hit Zero” both days, performing the routine with no deductions, meaning no stunts were left out and no safety rules were broken, while demonstrating school pride and athleticism on the competition floor. The CHS cheerleading squad was also awarded a special “Best Use of Stunts” award.
The event, produced by the National Cheerleading Association, celebrated the strength of school spirit, community, athletics and their 75th anniversary as a brand. This year’s championship hosted a record 310 cheerleading teams and featured nearly 800 performances in 27 states. Cheerleading teams are judged on their crowd management abilities, stunt and tumble skills, and overall performance. The Spirit Program division includes combinations of cheerleading team, dance team, band program and mascot, and offers teams the opportunity to recreate their traditions from the sidelines to the competition podium. All teams invited to participate in the championship have earned the right to participate in the Varsity Spirit Camp in 2022.
“We are thrilled to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the National Cheerleading Association and provide a national championship platform to showcase these incredible athletes,” said Bill Seely, president of Varsity Spirit. “Celebrating these athletes’ contributions to their schools and communities, commitment to school spirit and outstanding talent, while providing them with the opportunity to compete for a national title is at the core of our mission to elevate the student experience.”
The Cigarroa Cheerleaders began their practices in the summer of 2022 and practiced extensively during football season until the holidays. With the support of athletics in their schools, they conducted intensive exercises to improve individual and team skills. CHS senior and co-captain Elizabeth Rodriguez adds that it’s been about seven years since CHS earned this title. “This was a really big success, not only for me but also for the team, winning a competition like this is a really amazing feeling. This title means a lot to all team members. I’m really proud of my team and what they’ve achieved this year – not just the title but everything else. To our coaches, thank you very much.”
As head coach, Ramirez helped the team overcome unique challenges making this a memorable year for the Pride of South Laredo. “This was the first time I could really see the whole program that I have been slowly building for the last 4 years. Along with preparing the team for the soccer season and then for our competition season, I also gave birth to a baby girl in November, so I was out for a few weeks during our peak competition preparation time. That’s when my assistant coaches really stepped up and made things happen while I was out there,” Ramirez said. “We also suffered numerous injuries and had to change our routine several times. Despite all that, this team overcame so many odds against them and proved to themselves and the judges that they deserved this victory. We had so many supporters and people rooting for us. It feels amazing to be able to bring this achievement back to our campus and the city of Laredo.”
The Cheer program is led by captain Arely Barboza and co-captains Elizabeth Rodriguez and Kayla Sandoval. They are managed by Sponsor & Coach Nataly Ramirez and assistant coaches Litzy Gutierrez and Victor Gutierrez.