From six minutes to three minutes. From 25 participants to just 15. No drummers.
These rules raised some eyebrows during the UAAP Season 84 Cheerdance Competition, which the UAAP made, of course, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
But the difference between this season’s edition of CDC was much more than those conditions, if you asked the athletes themselves.
Take it from champions FEU Cheering Squad team captains Johnry Alpay and Monica Belo.
Forced to conduct virtual trainings during the onslaught of the pandemic – which disallowed teams to rehearse face-to-face in their school gyms – the athletes needed to adjust a lot.
After two years of virtual training, the eventual champions entered a bubble training setup last March 2. And from the get-go, it was noticeable how out-of-shape they were.
“Noong bumalik kami, medyo nangapa ‘yung mga tao, sobrang nag struggle talaga nang malala,” said Alpay.
“‘Yung endurance namin nawala, ‘yung mga skills namin nawala.”
But those problems were just hiccups for the FEU dancers, who were so focused on finally getting the gold after back-to-back bridesmaid finishes.
Despite the compressed timeline with just two months to prepare, the squad which dazzled with a Queen-themed performance found ways.
“Nag-double effort na lang kami, nag-training kami twice a day. ‘Yun po ‘yung ginawa namin kaya nahabol namin ‘yung endurance namin saka ‘yung mga skills na akala namin nawala na talaga,” said Alpay.
The transition from being virtual captains to leading the ship during their bubble training was not easy as well.
But Belo also pointed out the advantages they got in their two months inside the FEU walls in Morayta.
“Noong nag-bubble training naman po kami doon po lalong nag-bond ‘yung team kasi araw araw kami nagkikita then twice a day ‘yung training namin,” shared Belo.
“Sobrang nag-effort lang din kaming captains kasi syempre hindi madaling maging captain lalo na galing ka sa online training, iba ‘yung setup sa online training and ‘yung pag may face to face na pong training.”
After two years of virtual Zoom sessions, two months of bubble trainings, and countless sacrifices, FEU finally reached the peak of UAAP Cheerdance.
And for a flawless performance that saw FEU top all the categories – namely tumbling, stunts, tosses, pyramids, and dance – head coach Randell San Gregorio knows his squad deserves the CDC heaven.
With its close-to-perfection display, FEU collected 727.5 points – far ahead of first runner-up Adamson Pep Squad with just 688.5 points. Second runner-up NU Pep Squad finished with 681 points.
“Wala namang mas deserving pa sa great run na ‘yun but my team, the member themselves.”