For Pam Salas, an Alice Coyote cheerleader and CGA Twisters competitive cheerleader, Sunday night proved to be emotional on many levels at the Annual CGA Twisters Banquet in Robstown.
Not only was this her last banquet as a CGA Twister, and her last time to take the stage with her senior team members, Salas received a $500 college scholarship from the parents of CGA, which brought her to tears during the presentation. Ben Bolt's Rechea Roberson also received a $500 scholarship.
"I don't know what to say right now. Where to start," Salas said. "They've helped me grow closer to people, and helped me grow into somebody I'll be in the future, to set goals. Cheerleading is what I like to do. After college, I want to go back."
The CGA Banquet was an opportunity to honor young women from across South Texas who give of their time, after school and on weekends, to grow in competitive cheerleading. While most residents in South Texas recognize the hard work cheerleaders do on the football field, supporting local teams throughout the year, competitive cheerleading is the only time these young girls and boys, have the opportunity to shine in their sport of choice, cheerleading.
The CGA Twisters have been a competitive force for the last 10 years, drawing in nearly 200 students a year from Alice, Robstown, Corpus Christi, Kingsville and elsewhere. Often, students travel from as far as 30 minutes to one hour away, just to make it to practice two to three times a week.
Salas said in her own experience for the last five and a half years, she has had to schedule her time to do as much work at school as possible, to free up her evenings on gym days. She said it was especially difficult this year, as a senior at Alice High School, a Coyote cheerleader and a student focused on her senior project. She said it was a matter of doing as much as she could, as soon as she could.
"I would try to do most of the project work at school, and following cheerleading practice at school, me and the other girls from the squad would run over to Robstown to work at the gym," Salas said. "It was a matter of getting things done ahead of time, so that way I'd have time to go to gym."
Sunday night's banquet also honored the efforts of the competitive teams represented at CGA. The Level 1 Mini team was given certificates for its 2009-2010 National Championship Title, while the Junior and Senior Level Squads were honored for their 2009-2010 All Star Cheerleading Squad designations. Even the coaches received awards, and this year the American CheerPower/Power Dance Organizations honored them as the Small Gym Division Coaching Staff of the Year.
CGA Head Coach and Gym owner Phil Salazar said the teams are more like an extended family. He said after the award banquet that he has been blessed to be able to do what he does.
"If this is where my strength lies, bringing kids together through competition, and giving him all the glory first, and teaching them to give glory to God first, then I'm doing what I've supposed to," Salazar said. "To me it's not a job, it's a way of life."
The CGA Twisters, with 130 students at the Robstown location and 60 students in Kingsville, is planning to open an Alice location later this summer.
While receiving the scholarship, Salas said she saw just how much the other parents cared about her and her future success.
"I know some of them, but not all of them. I feel like they care, and they want me to better my future, so I feel good about that," Salas said. "It's sad that it has to come to an end, but I'm about to open a new chapter in my life."