Stare at the stun

- Ralph Mendoza (The Philippine Star) - September 20, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Having won this year’s much-coveted Cheerdance Samsung Stunner of the Year, De La Salle University’s Ana de Leon is sprinting, twirling and cartwheeling proof that cheerleading isn’t just about the pompoms  it’s about stretching your limits and, for her, well, literally doing so. At just 20 years old, this third year BS psychology student not only helped her DLSU Animo Squad win 2nd runner-up overall in the UAAP Cheerdance, but bested Aya Casim of UP Pep Squad and Micah Javierin of NU Cheer Squadron at the UAAP Cheerdance Competition to bag her very own special award as well. It’s safe to say we just got stunned.

Now she may be an archer, but Ana de Leon’s name seems to suggest she’s of the raging, roaring lion kind. Who is this girl exactly? Join Young STAR as we get to know her in 11 questions.

YOUNG STAR: How does it feel to actually win the Samsung Stunner, Ana?

ANA DE LEON: It was really overwhelming because I honestly did not expect to win this award since the representatives from UP and NU were both stunning as well!

What made you become a cheerleader to begin with?

It was my passion for dancing and my willingness to try new things like stunting and flying despite the risks involved.

But going even way back, what got you into cheering?

Believe it or not, I actually started to be part of our volleyball team when I was in grade school but since I also love dancing, stunts, flexibility, and gymnastics, I joined St. Paul College of Pasig’s Pep Varsity and our dance varsity (SPCP Terpsichore).

Okay, you mentioned stunts. How do you keep fit to practice all the leaping and contorting that you do? They look crazy hard!

We train every day for more than three hours after class. Not only do we have different coaches for gymnastics, stunts, and dance that help us improve our skills, we also do daily conditioning as a team for endurance — like jogging, push-ups, crunches, and planking.

You ever fear getting injured with such a strenuous workout like that?

Yes, of course! That is the last thing that I would want to happen not only to me but also to my teammates because obviously cheerleading is a team sport, not an individual sport. Once someone is injured or just sick, it’s always hard for the team to adjust.

But what about cheerleading makes it a challenge worth taking?

Cheerleading is really tough because we need to cheer for all our athletes in DLSU and lift the school’s spirit especially during the games. It’s also difficult to balance our studies with curricular activities especially when our training ends late at night.

What is it about your school that sets you guys apart from the rest?

The DLSU Animo Squad is different from the other squads in such a way that we treat each other like family in and out of training and school. Our school also has a fast-paced learning system since we are trimestral, hence our seniors graduate earlier since we only have about three years in college, so recruitment is never easy.

And how does cheerleading play a part in what you hope to become someday?

It helps me a lot with how I manage stress and pressure since I know that when I take up medicine in the future it would be more time-consuming and challenging.

What’s the secret to balancing such a busy life, though?

Time management.

What are your passions in life and why?

Besides dancing, my passion in life is traveling. I love to travel because I like exploring new places and things. It really consoles me (and gets rid of) pressure, stress, and anxiety.

What or who keeps you inspired to pursue your passions?

First and foremost is God. I always pray to Him whenever I am having a hard time and or when I am in doubt. Next are my family, friends, teammates, coaches, and boyfriend. They help me get up whenever I stumble, and at the same time remind me to stay grounded.

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 Follow the author at ralphmendo.tumblr.com for outtakes.

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