Once a year, The University of Texas-Pan American cheer and dance teams compete to show school spirit and hopefully put the University on the map. This summer they traveled to the Universal Cheerleaders Association and Universal Dance Association camps at Texas State University in San Marcos.
UTPA's Division I co-ed teams competed against schools such as The University of Texas at Austin and Louisiana State University. The 11-member cheer team excelled by bringing home numerous awards including: first place, cheer; second place, fight song; and second place, sideline competitions. They were also recipients of the leadership award voted on by all teams in their division. The six-member dance team received most improved team and superior trophy awards. UTPA's mascot, Bucky, earned the award "Upcoming Mascot."
Among the cheer team's many awards are two second place prizes from 2002 and 2003, and a national championship from 2000.
"I am very pleased with the teams," said Charlie Caceres, interim cheer and dance coach. "Being a very young team, they were mesmerized by the big schools, but once the team saw that the competitive spirit was the same our team stepped it up and did very well."
Despite having small teams and the majority of their members being novices, Caceres said, the competition showed them they could beat some very good groups and showed the University the teams' enthusiasm and how they can represent UTPA extremely well.
"It's not just about competition for our teams," Caceres said. "It is having the opportunity to represent UTPA at a national setting."
However, before competing again, Caceres said they plan to re-focus their attention on supporting the University and athletic events.
Dance captain Brittanie Rosas agrees that the team's focus on the University and its sports is important.
"I think if we support our University teams then it can help get bigger crowds for our games," Rosas said. "Plus, I think it's important to show people what a great program we have."
Rosas said the night before the competition they stayed awake into the morning hours rehearsing their routine together. She hopes to continue growing and building stronger bonds as a team.
"We were so happy and surprised when we came home with our awards," Rosas said. "So by working together we can show everybody that we're pretty good at what we do."
Caceres said that each team has talent that sets them apart from everyone else, which is important to have when you compete with other teams from across the United States.
"People don't realize the talent pool in the Valley," Caceres said. The one thing these young individuals have is their tenacity."
For more information on UTPA's cheer and dance team, contact Caceres at (956) 665-7808.