Photo courtesy of Rachel Schmulewicz
Mills High School's varsity cheerleading squad is traveling to Hawaii to participate in the 2011 Pro Bowl's annual halftime show. The squad includes, clockwise from back left, Candice Newson, Alexandria Kim, Deanna Martinez, Sarah Garcia and Melissa Gil, Christina Green, Brooke Richardson, Jessica Reginio, Stephanie Sun and Nicole Gauci.
San Mateo native Tom Brady may be leading the AFC team during the 2011 Pro Bowl later this month, but he’s not the only local who will be at Aloha Stadium Jan. 30.
Mills High School’s varsity cheerleading squad is one of a number of high school squads traveling to Hawaii as part of the annual halftime show. Mills has earned the invitation before, but hasn’t taken it in a number of years due to the additional cost.
"The girls worked super hard to achieve this,” said Rachel Schmulewicz, who has coached the squad for seven years.
Squads compete for the opportunity during camp held over the summer through the United Spirit Organization. Girls participated in the cheer and song, basically dance, sections of the camp held in July at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Receiving almost unanimous superior ratings is required to earn the invitation.
Junior Alexandria Kim explained the squad performed in a group and individually in the dance section. For cheer, the girls did a performance and game time cheer, said 16-year-old Candice Newson.
While numerous squads compete during the school year, Mills focuses on supporting its athletic teams, said Schmulewicz.
"It’s very important for them to earn something and do it together,” said Schmulewicz.
Both junior varsity and varsity earned invitations but only the 10-member varsity squad is attending. While the big game is Jan. 30, the squad leaves Jan. 27 and returns Jan. 31. Unlike in previous years, the routine will not be televised. Nor was the squad given a DVD of the routine before arriving. Practice starts on Thursday evening, said Schmulewicz.
Those on the squad are excited to take a trip with teammates who are like family.
Kim is so excited about the trip that she packed her bag last week.
Newson added "We’re like a family. They’re all like my sisters.”
Jessica Reginid, 16, said the squad worked hard for the opportunity.
Seventeen-year-old Deanna Martinez, the lone senior on the squad, was particularly excited.
"This is a once in a lifetime thing. I’m proud. All the girls have worked so hard,” she said.
Getting the money together for the trip was a challenge. It was about $1,200 without airfare per person. The girls hosted a bowl-a-thon to help raise funds.
Going did raise some questions for the San Mateo Union High School District Board of Trustees, which approved the trip earlier this month. Board President Stephen Rogers questioned the environment of a professional football game and requested an additional chaperone attend. While a number of district officials, elected and employed, volunteered, they were unneeded. Enough parents were already planning to attend.
Heather Murtagh can be reached by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.