Coach Christine Del Real couldn’t have been more proud of the Hollister Vikings Mitey Mite Cheer team. About half of the 14-member group performed a routine at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in the Pop Warner National Cheer and Dance Championships on Dec. 3 in Florida.
“We felt really good because we tried our best and worked really hard for it,” said Taylee Aguilar, 7, a second grader at Ladd Lane. “My favorite part was doing our tumbling passes and stunts.”
The members who attended Nationals included Aguilar, Jaylen Becerril, Maya Betancourt, Camila Ceballos, Jayleen Contreras, Jade Morales and Emily Sanchez.
Although Hollister was in the non-competitive performance exhibition category, the Mitey Mites—the 7 to 9-year old age division—were judged and received an award for superior performance as one of the teams competing out of the Pacific Northwest Division.
“It was a little bit of a shocker,” Del Real said. “We didn’t know we were going to be judged, and then they handed us a packet award.”
Aguilar, who is the daughter of Del Real, worked non-stop to fundraise for the trip. Her fellow cheer team members did as well. Del Real said her daughter sold around 100 raffle tickets going door to door in Hollister and an additional 10 boxes of chocolate bars in front of Safeway.
“Even when it was really cold outside, she didn’t want to go home,” said Del Real, who was on the first Vikings cheer team that made it to Nationals in 2001.
Del Real said she was extremely proud of the girls for making tremendous improvement.
“They all learned how to do cartwheels,” she said. “We had a lot of first-year cheerleaders who started with little knowledge of the sport. By the end of the season, they were all tumbling, doing stunts and dancing really well.”
Aguilar cried when she learned the team had received an invite to perform at Nationals.
“My dream was to go to Florida and cheer in Nationals,” she said.