Around this time last year, the Venice cheer team was celebrating its success on being in the top three teams for the LAUSD Western League. This year though, the team struggled and placed sixth. Their coach, Joana Trocan, has been on maternity leave since December and hasn’t been able to help the team which has now taken a toll on them.
Without Coach Trocan, many things changed. During this time, Ms. Simon-Meyer has offered her time to take over the team and supervise them.
“Trocan and I are very close so when she told me that she was leaving and that the girls wouldn’t be able to do competitive cheer, I volunteered to take over,” said Ms. Simon-Meyer. “A lot of my students are on the team, so when they heard this, they were all sad and I just couldn’t say no.”
This year there were no tryouts held for the competition. Instead, Coach Trocan made it open to the junior varsity cheer girls, in addition to varsity. This made it a bit harder for the team to adjust to their routines since they were working with new girls and letting them know that this was a much more demanding season. Despite the new girls’ lack of experience, they all did good and helped out the team.
“I really think the new girls are picking it up,” said senior team captain Ava Harris. “They put in a lot of work and are demonstrating that they could be part of the varsity team next year.”
Without their coach, the girls felt like they didn’t practice their skills as much and were unprepared, but the captains, twins Ava and Audren Harris, have been of great help and support.
“It’s really difficult because I’m still a student and everyone else is too, so it’s students teaching other students,” said Ava Harris. Audren Harris has also had difficulties balancing out being a captain without Coach Trocan’s help. “With our recent competition I had to consolidate my squad and tell them that it was okay, but as captain with coach responsibilities, I had to tell them what was wrong and how it can never happen again,” she said. “I also feel like cheer isn’t taken as seriously as at other schools. We have to practice in the front lawn and that gets uncomfortable and creepy since everyone is looking and cars honk their horns. The lack of resources makes a difference in our performance,” added Audren Harris. With this experience, they all have appreciated cheer and their coach even more for creating their routines.
The day before the competition on Feb. 21, the girls had to create their whole routine within three hours and practiced it for another two hours. All of the girls worked with what they had and in their opinion, there wasn’t anything they could’ve done better. Team members said they’re all proud, but aware that they need to keep working harder.
The team also didn’t get to go to the Vegas competition they were most looking forward to.
“As a senior, I’m sad that we didn’t go to Vegas but I’m more grateful for getting to compete in the first place,” senior cheerleader Ashley Medrano said.
For now, the team is only competing in league but are still hustling. To the girls, cheering isn’t just about rooting and cheering for the football and basketball team. Their definition of cheer is going to competitions and having fun while proving themselves. They all hope that their hard work will pay off and are waiting to see other ways to prove that cheer is an actual sport.