Behind leadership from returning seniors and juniors, the Irvine High School cheerleading team won a title for the first time at the CIF Southern Section championships.
It was the Vaqueros’ second appearance in the playoffs since the California Interscholastic Federation recognized competitive cheer as a sport. Last year, the Vaqueros finished fourth in their division.
“This is the third year that we’ve had competitive cheer at Irvine High, so now I have cheerleaders that have been on the team for multiple years,” says head coach Megan Brophy, an alumna of the school. “That can help teach the younger cheerleaders what is expected and what is needed to win. That experience is really key.”
Teams must perform one minute of cheer and 1 ½ minutes of stunts and dancing. They receive scores based on execution, technique and degree of difficulty, as well as the ability to inspire a crowd. The Vaqueros, who competed in the 4AA division, danced to a “girl power” mix featuring songs by Beyonce and Olivia Rodrigo.
Irvine’s championship squad featured three new members, two who had never cheered before and one who moved to Irvine from Kansas.
“It means a lot because, at Irvine High, we really try to be inclusive,” Brophy says. “We try to get as many people as possible interested in participating in the sport. And we’re probably more open and accepting in our tryout rates than other schools.”
“I really believe as a coach that every cheerleader has the ability to do this and be a champion as long as they have the commitment and they’re willing to put in the work,” she adds.
Brophy says that returns such as seniors Miranda Pacheco and Rio Bella Macfarland, junior Keira Wheeler and sophomore Jaslyne Frommenwiler showed the team what it means to be committed.
“They never miss a practice,” Brophy says. “They step up and do things that are sometimes out of their comfort zone. I can count on them to always put in their best effort.”