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Cheering to the top

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(MV) — The high energy and excitement of cheerleading is what drew Dylan Torres to the sport and now with three national championships under her belt at only 12 years old, she is looking to the future.

Starting at six years old in the Pop Warner Cheer and Dance Program in Corona, California on the team Corona Chargers, she eventually moved on to the Silver Stars of Corona Stars Cheer Squad, training for over ten hours a week and taking private lessons to get her to the level she wanted to be in her division.

The hard work and commitment with her team paid off, as they claimed Jamz Cheer and Dance National Championships, National Championships for the National Cheer Association and National Championships for the United Cheer Association in the Junior Small Division.

Although she was born and raised in California, Dylan’s parents Dwayne and Erlynn Torres are from Saipan and Guam, so she is proud to represent the Marianas, especially as the only islander on the team.

“Cheer is not about just poms poms, it is about hard work, dedication and teamwork,” smiles Dylan. “It felt good to win the National Championships because we have wanted to have it for a long time — we tried and tried, got second and third places and when we finally won the first one, we felt so happy.”

The first major win, Dylan says, created a fire within the team that drove them to the top of NCA and UCA Championships.

Being part of a top competitive team, however, comes with lots of sacrifices.

Dylan and her parents understood that walking unto the cheerleading mat involves a large commitment on their part, both socially and financially.

“From a young age, I noticed that Dylan loved to perform — she has her own niche. So, we enrolled her in tumbling classes. She started for Pop Warner and as she got older, they were already approaching her to ask if she was ready to join a cheerleading team.  Then after three years, she said she was ready,” said Erlynn.

“I explained to her that she had to work hard to earn her position on the team, with a lot of dedication and commitment, they only want the best of the best.  It was tough, there were even times when she felt she couldn’t continue, but she persevered and gave it her best,” she added.

Dwayne, sporting a Cheer Dad t-shirt, likened the training to football.

Cheerleader Dylan Torres is overjoyed after winning her second national championship at the National Cheer Association competition in Dallas, Texas in March for the Junior Small Division. Her team went on to win the United Cheer Association National Championships, making it three major wins for the 12 year-old. 

 

Dylan Torres strikes a pose at the 2020 STUNT Competition in Corona, California after her team, Savage, won two of the matches in late October. Dylan, along with her team, Silver Stars of Corona Stars, won three Cheer and Dance National Championships in the Junior Small Division earlier this year. Contributed photo

“She trains and conditions like a football player — a lot of core, technique and endurance work — they practice their routines over and over, as a single mistake can cost them on the mat.  The strength and confidence they build from competing is amazing.  The fact that she could go on stage to compete with 2,000 other cheerleaders in front of 10,000 people and execute a flawless routine is incredible,” he points out.

Traveling to national competitions is also costly, but worth it, says Dwayne, all the hard work and investment they are putting in is about building Dylan’s future.

“The ultimate goal for her is to be scouted by a recruiter. Universities are constantly searching at local, regional, and national events and if they remember your child, they will follow her to high school and if all goes well, she will be offered a full scholarship.  Her mentors have gone through that and she looks up to them,” said Erlynn.

It is not only about her passion for the sport, as a young cheerleader, Dylan must also balance schoolwork, practice, and competition and so far, she is exceling in all three, due in large part to the discipline she has gained.

“She works hard to stay on top of her game, very disciplined because her coaches expect it — no time for messing around, there is so much commitment and money involved so if you don’t have time to focus, just leave,” says Erlynn.

Dylan is not planning to leave the mat, rather she plans to build her competitive portfolio.

As the cheer sport expands, a new format emerges with STUNT, marked as one of the fastest growing female team sports in the country and recently, Dylan’s team, Savage competed, winning two of their matches.

STUNT is when two teams go head to head, executing carefully crafted stunt sequences that are observed by judges and a camera to ensure timing and technique in four quarters consisting of Partner Stunts, Pyramids and Tosses, Jumps and Tumbling.

The sequences are short, but unlike cheerleading, the contest can go to close to an hour and only the strongest team in execution gets the points.

“Cheer gives me energy.  I become focused on the mat and I give it my all for my team.  I liked it when I first saw it and wanted to be a part of national championship team — now that it has finally happened, I will keep moving forward,” said Dylan. “If you would like to try something new, go for it, just try it out and see what happens…be dedicated to it, you can only do good.”

 

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