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Granillo chosen
All American Cheerleader


By DEBRA DeANGELO
Express editor
Three cheers for Gracie Granillo: the Winters High School sophomore was chose “All American Cheerleader” by the Universal Cheerleaders Associ-ation (UCA), a national organization dedicated to providing high quality training for high school and college cheerleaders.
Gracie traveled to Houston, Texas to march in the Houston Thanksgiving Day Parade, along with other similarly honored cheerleaders from all over the country. To prepare, Gracie received a new uniform and pom-poms, as well as a dance routine on a DVD. All those marching in the parade had to learn the dance on their own within one month before arriving in Houston to perform it together. Gracie says an additional challenge was that the dance had two parts, and they had to learn both routines because they didn’t know in advance where they’d be standing in the group until they got there.
Before even arriving however, Gracie says she had one additional challenge: Money. However, she says she got immediate support from her mother, Darcy.
“She as there with me the whole time,” says Gracie, and when her mother got the news that she’d been chosen as a UCA All American Cheerleader, she says her mother responded, “OK, let’s get to fundraising.”
“She supported me through the entire time, and she’s like my best friend,” says Gracie, adding that in addition to her gratitude for her mother’s efforts, she’s also grateful for those who helped sponsor her trip. “It took a lot of money to get there and I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Gracie, who is in her second year on the Winters High School cheerleading squad, stared cheerleading with the Winters Junior Warriors after moving to Winters in the 7th grade. She began cheering in 8th grade in Winters, but says she was active in junior cheerleading since she was 9 years old. She says her interest in cheerleading began while watching her brother play junior football.
“I enjoyed watching cheerleaders on the sidelines, and then I thought, ‘Oh, I could do that.’ The next year I tried out — it was kind of something on the fly. I’ve loved it ever since.”
Last summer, Gracie attended cheer camp for high school students, and had an instructor from the UCA. Gracie says only a handful auditioned for the All American Cheerleader designation, and she was amongst them and was ultimately chosen, and asked to be part of the Houston Thanksgiving Day Parade.
She and her mother flew to Texas the Monday before Thanksgiving, and she says they enjoyed a stay in a nice hotel, and all their meals were provided by the UCA, even on Thanksgiving Day. At the actual event, Gracie says 400 cheerleaders marched down Houston’s Main Street and performed the dance they’d learned on the DVD. The parade was also broadcast on several television channels.
While some may view cheerleading as a frivolous activity, it actually requires considerable physical training as well as hours of practice. Beyond that, Gracie says there are other benefits to cheerleading, such as self-confidence.
“When you’re yelling a lot , you’ll get people’s attention,” she says.
Is she shy?
“Not at all,” she responds, with a smile. “I’ve been cheering since I was 9, I enjoy it, I try to make the best of it, and I try to get people involved.”
Besides cheerleading, Gracie is also active in the Winters FFA, and is considering a future in animal science, “maybe an ag teacher, so I can teach other kids.”
As for other cheerleaders, Gracie recommends attending a UCA cheer camp.
“If any cheerleader in the future gets the opportunity to go, they should definitely take it up. You get to meet a lot of new people.”
She also says she learned some new cheer techniques, “roll offs,” and hopes to share those as well as her All American Cheerleader dance with next year’s Winters High School cheer squad.