Kingsburg High’s gymnasium exploded with energetic dance moves, squeals of enthusiasm and bumping music July 7 and 8. In preparation for the fall youth football season, area cheer squads converged on the Kingsburg High campus to learn new dance routines in a JAMZ cheer camp.
JAMZ event coordinator Benjamin Haskell said since cheer has evolved from the simple moves of yesteryear, participants need to learn how to safely maneuver and execute more complex routines that incorporate stunts, dance, motions and jumps.
“No matter what, you feel the energy with the music and movements," Haskell said. "It’s a positive place for the kids to be learning something fun.”
Cheer coaches say the camp is also the perfect chance to build comradery and team-working skills for the upcoming season.
“It’s a chance to get together and get a feel for it,” said Angela Koons, president of Lions’ Kingsburg Youth Cheer.
Kingsburg High hosts the camp where Modesto-based JAMZ cheer instructors lead the squads from Selma, Kingsburg, Reedley, Parlier and Mendota through various dance moves. The cheer squads range in age from Pee Wees and Mighty Mites to Seniors. During the second day, the cheerleaders put on a demonstration for their coaches and parents.
“[JAMZ instructors] teach them different dances and stunts depending on their age and experience,” Koons said. “It’s a good way for the little girls to learn the cheers and camp gets the girls together.”
Selma Bandits’ Cheer squads also took part in the camp and coordinator Denise Sandoval says the cheerleaders learn not only cheer techniques and dance moves, but also build a sense of unity in their squads and overall confidence.
“We have some that just joined and they’re shy, but by the end of the season they’ve had that experience and they not shy anymore,” Sandoval said.
Parents Jesse and Sandra Archuleta say cheerleading is a good option for kids who like to dance as it helps build confidence and even friendships across towns.
“They’re all from different towns and yet they get to be part of an even larger community,” said Sandra Archuleta. “It brings them out of their comfort zone, especially for the new ones.”
After learning a routine to “All About That Bass” during camp, the Archuletas’ daughter, Jazlynn, 8, says cheering makes her “feel inspired.” However, she does admit she’ll be a bit nervous when the cheer season first begins. But once the music starts and with the other cheerleaders by her side, she has a plan to stay focused and dance.
“I’ll just pretend I’m in my room,” Jazlynn said.