Meet the UAAP CDC 2016 captains ft. NUís Amanda Alejandrino
Barry Viloria on Nov 28, 2016 07:00 PM
More than a week after their historic win, the Sampaloc-based squad is still feeling Ďecstatic.í Get to know the groupís leader who was also a national gymnastics team member. (Photos courtesy of Amanda Alejandrino)
If a UAAP CDC four-peat and a World Cheerleading Championships bronze medal aren’t enough to establish the NU Pep Squad as a name, we don’t know what will. It’s a feat only the UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe among the rest of the UAAP member schools has achieved in the entire history of the tournament, which NU pulled off with an arresting and flawless futuristic-themed routine last November 19. Such achievement wasn’t not a walk in the park for the squad, and the captain Amanda Alejandrino herself would show you proof of evidence for that. In the summer before the start of school or months before the competition, NU conducts tight training sessions and a whirlwind of challenges to screen the ones worthy of a slot in the CDC-competing team. Alejandrino, a 23-year-old Sports and Wellness Management student who went to Alpha Omega Academy in Texas for high school, has always made it to the cut for her skills and competitive spirit. As an artistic gymnast, she previously represented the Philippines in the SEA Games. She has since retired from the gymnastics team to pursue a degree through a varsity scholarship, while getting into a new sport that little would she know will change her life. She recalls in delight, “In the summer of 2013, I witnessed NU win their first National Cheerleading Competition championship. I was in awe of their routine! To be honest, I didn't even know where the NU campus was, but I knew that if I was ever to cheer on anyone's squad, it would be theirs.”
How was the training for the NU Pep Squad in preparation for UAAP CDC 2016?
“We have concrete goals for the day, week, month, season, so it was easy to work with them. I have always felt that my coaches trained us so we could fill in special spots on the team, so it was easy to stay motivated… In the summer, we work on our endurance, learn new skills, and get a feel of which people will work well together. As the summer closes, we have an in-house competition. We fight for the competing team slots. From there, we work on creating the routine. We also focus on strength at this point, since we've done a lot of endurance training in the summer. A couple of months before the CDC, we polish and downgrade a few stunts and execute the final routine until our muscles memorize each movement.”
How do you bond as a team?
“We live in dorms so we're always together. We also make time to watch movies or go out to eat. Our managers make sure we have at least one team building session during the season. We go out of town to swim and explore the outdoors. Training sessions help us bond too, actually. We learn how each one works, how one takes critiques, etc.”
What do you love about your team?
“I love that my team isn't afraid to dream! We took small steps before making it to our first UAAP Championship, but all those little steps were taken in light of a bigger picture—to establish our own identity in the UAAP CDC and of course to create a lasting legacy in honor of our school.”
What makes NU Pep Squad different from other teams?
“My coaches definitely make the difference. They are extremely driven, fearless, creative, and meticulous! I think that our routines show that. Our themes come with meaning, our music is mixed with their guidance (the voiceovers and song choices are theirs), they innovate new stunts, research on squads abroad, design our costumes (Coach Gabby designs our costumes, bags, cheer bows, props, jackets), create a nutrition and conditioning plan customized for each player. They are an incredible team!”
Which squad do you think was the biggest competition in the most recent CDC?
“I would say each squad has defining qualities that make them worthy competitors. But we always look at beating the best team; NU has been champion for the last 3 seasons and so we felt huge pressure to beat our seniors. I am hoping that my junior teammates beat our 4-peat routine! UST is personally my favorite squad. A squad I'm looking out for is UE, they're hungry to win and they've got stunts as difficult as ours!”
How did you come up with the theme?
“I think my coaches had the theme set early in the year. They wanted something very different from last year's theme, so they chose the polar opposite of prehistoric—futuristic!”
What’s next for the team?
“We want to defend our championship title at the National Cheerleading Competition. Competition there is tougher, other squads like the Altas Perpsquad, the CCP Bobcats, and Arellano will be joining UAAP schools in competition. We're focusing on beating our routine from last year. Hopefully, with NCC's endorsement and another national title, we will be able to represent our country at the International Cheerleading Union World Championships in Flordia in April 2017. Keeping our fingers crossed!”