The Cigarroa High School Cheerleaders won top honors at one of the most prestigious cheerleading competitions, the NCA High School Nationals, produced by the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) in Dallas, Texas recently. The mighty Toros were the only high school cheer team from Laredo to be named national champions and place first within the top five in the nation.
The team of 19 competing athletes, and six alternates, competed in the Intermediate Non-Tumbling Large Varsity Crowd Performance Division and performed two zero deduction routines. After two intense days of competition, they finished first out of five teams in the nation with a final score of 97.6.
The CHS cheerleaders prepared for excellence with months of intense mental and physical training. “These athletes have worked extremely hard through the years, and know what it's like when the outcome isn’t in their favor. They use those experiences as motivation and allow it to fuel their drive to win,” CHS Cheerleading Sponsor and Head Coach, Nataly Ramirez said. “While our competition season might be over, the Cigarroa Spirit Program is far from done for the year. Our Toro Spirit Squad will continue to support our Toro Basketball Teams, and our Diamond Doll season will begin alongside the Baseball season.”
The Pride of South Laredo “Hit Zero” on both days, executing a routine without any deductions, meaning no stunts were dropped and no safety rules were broken, while demonstrating school pride and athleticism on the competition floor. The CHS cheer team was also awarded a "Best Use of Stunts" Specialty Award.
The event, produced by National Cheerleaders Association, celebrated the power of school spirit, community, athleticism and their 75th anniversary as a brand. This year's championship hosted a record breaking high of 310 cheerleading teams and showcased nearly 800 performances across 27 states. Cheerleading teams are judged on their crowd leading abilities, stunting, and tumbling skills and overall performance. The Spirit Program division includes combinations of the cheer squad, dance team, band program, and mascot, and offers the chance for teams to recreate their traditions from the sidelines to the competition floor. All teams invited to perform at the championship received eligibility at a Varsity Spirit Camp in 2022.
"We are thrilled to celebrate the 75th anniversary of National Cheerleaders Association and provide a national championship platform to showcase these incredible athletes," said Bill Seely, President of Varsity Spirit. "Celebrating these athletes' contribution to their schools and communities, dedication to school spirit, and excellent talent, while giving them an opportunity to compete for a national title is core to our mission of elevating student experiences."
The Cigarroa Cheerleaders began their training in summer 2022 and trained vigorously through the football season and into the holidays. Along with supporting their schools athletics, they conducted intense practices to improve individual and team skills. CHS Senior and Cheer Co-Captain Elizabeth Rodriguez adds that it’s been approximately seven years since CHS had attained this title. “This was a really big accomplishment, not only for me but for the team, to win a competition like this feels really amazing. This title means a lot to all team members. I really am proud of my team and what they have accomplished this year - not just the title but everything apart from that. To our coaches, thank you so much.”
As head coach, Ramirez helped the team overcome unique challenges making this year a memorable one for the Pride of South Laredo. “This was the first time I was truly able to see an entire program that I had slowly built over these last 4 years. Along with preparing the team for football season and then our own competition season, I also gave birth to a baby girl in November, so I was out for several weeks during our peak competition prep time. That’s when my assistant coaches really stepped up and made things happen while I was out,” Ramirez said. “We also suffered numerous injuries and had to make changes to our routine numerous times. Despite all of that, this team overcame so many odds stacked against them and proved to themselves and to the judges that they deserved this win. We’ve had so many supporters and people rooting for us. It feels amazing to be able to bring this accomplishment 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 under the direction of Sponsor & Head Coach Nataly Ramirez and assistant coaches Litzy Gutierrez and Victor Gutierrez.