By Leaps and Bounds


The Vista dance team at a football game.

Deanna Cuadra, Editor-in-Chief

Whether it be at a football game, basketball game or rally, rain or shine, Vista’s dance team is there for it all.  But there is more to Vista’s dance team than just halftime entertainment.

Vista’s dance team qualified for nationals at USA’s (United Spirit Association) regional competition in Santa Cruz on Sept. 25. This is the third year that the dance team competed at nationals and the third year they’ve qualified.

Not too shabby considering that this team went from a performance squad for Vista games to a nationally ranked dance team within the span of a few years.

“When I began coaching for the Vista dance team, it was not a competitive squad,” said Alicia Leija, the Vista dance team coach. “Transitioning from a performance squad to a competition squad has been the biggest challenge I’ve encountered… The practice time and conditioning are quite demanding for competition.”

However, the girls’ dedication has made clear that whatever demands there may be, it’s worth it.

“They keep each other motivated and hold each other accountable. Their drive and hunger to continue to progress are incredibly inspiring,” said Leija.

With three-hour dance practices twice a week and weekend practices for competitions, Vista’s dancers are passionate about what they do. That passion has definitely paid off and just in the nick of time, considering that their choreography this year is the most challenging choreography the dance team has encountered.

“This year’s team is more technical than the teams past and they pick up choreography much faster. The speed at which they learn and their technical ability aids to more visuals and variety in choreography,” said Leija.  Even after losing half of their original team of 12, nothing has slowed down them down.  

“People probably look at us and think we’re just this tiny, little team, but we’re so, so powerful,” said Marin Perego, the captain of the Vista dance team.

Over the past two and half seasons, the Vista dance team has won 27 awards from various camps and competitions. Just in the past three years, five Vista dancers have been nominated for an All- American–the highest award that can be achieved in cheer and dance. Only 10 percent of the nation is selected for an All-American.  

However, the trophies aren’t the only things that define this team. They also give to their community by bringing awareness to diseases such as pediatric cancer and breast cancer.

“A trophy holds little weight years from now. It’s important to me that my athletes understand what it is to be a good person and have the skill set to be a valuable asset to their society, work or any organization or team they are committed to,” said Leija.

Beyond their service, commitment and wins, what might be the most rewarding part of Vista’s dance team are the dancers themselves.

“One of my favorite parts about being on the team is the fact that we are so close and try to help each other all the time… no matter what happens we stick together and we will be a team even after the season and for a long time after,” said Kaycee Castro, a Vista freshmen dancer.

Ultimately, these girls are not only getting to do what they love, but excel in it. And like all passions, dance also gives them the ability to express themselves outside of the daily hum.

“I think for a lot of us, it’s an escape from whatever is going at school, in life,” said Perego.

With that being said, this escape has proved fruitful over the past few years, for not only Vista dances, but Vista itself.