Wednesday, May 16, 2007

She's Got SaberCat Team Spirit 

Posted by James at 6:20 AM ET

By Alice Joy

A little more than a year ago, Celia Canes could be seen cheerleading for the 'Balers at the San Benito High School stadium.

But the Hollister resident traded in her red and white for green and gold and can now be found cheering for the SaberCats arena football team at HP Pavilion.

Celia Canes was chosen in February from around 150 women to be a SaberKitten - a cheerleader for the San Jose team.

"I couldn't believe I made the team," Celia Canes said. "It was definitely a dream that came true."

Although Celia Canes was shocked to learn she had been chosen, she had been preparing as a dancer nearly her entire life.

She started taking dance lessons at 22 months, learning to dance just shortly after learning to walk. Her mother, Lucia Canes, said she enrolled Celia Canes in dance classes so she would be involved in the community and to help make her more outgoing.

Celia, SaberKitten

"At first we didn't know if she liked it or not. We didn't realize until she was almost 7 and competed for the first time - that's where she got her feet wet," Lucia Canes said. "She loves dance."

Celia Canes has taken tap, jazz and ballet in Hollister and the surrounding areas. She said she didn't always dream of being a professional cheerleader, but decided to pursue it her senior year after she realized her previous goal was unattainable.

"My entire life I was planning on being a Rockette and dancing on Broadway, but I'm too short. So I thought about becoming a professional in cheerleading," Celia Canes said.

Now Celia Canes juggles her time between her dental hygiene classes at Cabrillo College in Aptos and cheerleading practice and games.

Her favorite part of cheerleading, she said, is the adrenaline rush she gets from being on the field in front of the crowd

"There's loud music, and cowbells are going crazy. The crowds are looking at you straight in the eye and smiling at you, and you're just standing there on the football field and cheering with the crowd. It's an amazing feeling - knowing you're there supporting the team and the fans," Celia Canes said.

Gold pompoms in hand, Celia Canes smiled into the immense crowd on Saturday night and performed a quick dance move after the team scored yet another touchdown. The team beat the Las Vegas Gladiators with a score of 61-34.

Celia, SaberKitten

Although she admitted later that she was nervous while cheering, she said that it helps knowing her parents - who have attended all five games she has cheered at this season - are there in the audience.

"It's the best thing for me. They've always been so supportive of me my whole life," Celia Canes said.

Celia Canes knows she will not be able to cheerlead her whole career, but she said she'll never give up dancing.

"It's really something that I love to do. It's in my heart," Celia Canes said.

Online home of the San Jose SaberKittens here.

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