The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School


The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School


The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School


Spirit Officer Melissa Hernandez Leads with Heart

A Hesitant Cheerleader’s Journey to Becoming a Courageous Spirit Officer
Gabriela Blanco
Junior Melissa Hernandez, cheerleading spirit officer, chants during games and encourages the crowd to follow along.

Heard from the sidelines to the bleachers, junior Melissa Hernandez’s voice rings throughout the field, as she cheers for the Cavaliers through the red plastic megaphone. Chanting “Let’s go Gables,” the crowd joins her in support of their victorious team. From the choreography seen at pep rallies and football games to the behind the scenes decision-making, Hernandez is instrumental in the success of her cheer squad.

Starting cheer her sophomore year, Hernandez did not have much prior experience. Coming from a family full of performers, her mom participated in color guard as a high schooler and her sisters partook in cheerleading competitions as young girls. Yet, Hernandez refused to stand in the limelight. However, when the idea of becoming a cheerleader was proposed to her by previous cheer captain, Teresita Deltoro, she began to consider the thought.

“However, the thought of being a cheerleader really sat in my mind. I thought about it for a while. And so, I went back a few times to talk to [Deltoro] about it, you know, what they were looking for, what the try out process would be like, and she had told me. And so, I thought to myself ‘You only live once. Why not try to do it?,” Hernandez said.

The three-day tryout process was extensive, yet Hernandez found no problem in standing out. Calling out the attention of  heer Coach Ms. Noval and captain Teresita Deltoro, Hernandez was soon initiated into the cheer squad.

Always seen with a smile on her face, Hernandez radiates positivity, and in doing so, uplifting her team. (Gabriela Blanco)

It was then that Hernandez found herself fitting into a new environment. Cheering at a different game every week and practicing in the gym every other day, she became all-consumed by the sport. Eager to become involved within this unfamiliar circle, she assisted in any way she could. Coming in with a skillful flexibility and an impressive diaphragm, she learned from those around her, molding the athlete into the role of the perfect cheerleader.

“Joining the team has really taught me to trust people. As a flyer, my safety is really in the hands of people that are tossing me in the air, and if you don’t trust them, you’re not really going to make it far. I’m so grateful for my stunt group and any stunt group that I will have in the future and those that I’ve had in the past. You know, I haven’t broken a bone. I’m not exactly the most trusting individual, but I now feel like I don’t have to have so many walls,” Hernandez said.

In March of Hernandez’s sophomore year, applications for new positions on the board were released. Soon-to-be juniors were encouraged to try out for the spirit officer position. Securing that position would grant them a chance at later becoming captain. As Hernandez’s peers were all ecstatic about the idea, she found herself with the same feeling that had approached her when hearing about the tryouts for the cheer team.

With the help of her teammates, Hernandez works to liven up the experience of a traditional high school game. From chants and dances to creating banner, she prioritizes her audience. (Gabriela Blanco)

Yet, a gut feeling stuck out; it was one that told Hernandez she too could apply. Filling out the application to become spirit officer an hour before they were due, Hernandez hesitantly took on the opportunity. A couple days later, walking out of Ms. Noval’s room with strong interview, her mind had been made up.

“Concluding the interview, Ms. Noval had said [the workload] is not something you can push aside. It is work. I said, and I quote, ‘I understand what I have to sacrifice. I wouldn’t be standing here right in front of you right now if I didn’t feel like I could do a good job, let alone handle it’… Being in the International Baccalaureate program and being part of the board, they are two things that are very consuming. I want it. I love being apart of things and contributing. I feel it makes me who I am, and I wouldn’t change that for anything. It makes me happy,”  Hernandez said.

About a week later, the soon-to-be captains walked into her first period business class. There, they announced her victory as the class cheered her on. Starting at that moment, Hernandez became well aware of the responsibility that would follow. Through the rainy, melancholy football games, she would have to cheer on her team. Through moments of disorganization and stress, she would have to smile and lead her cheer squad to success. Through moments of personal hardships, she would have to overcome and put on a smile for those that would depend on her.

“Aside from good spirit, I really want to push the girls to be good individuals outside of being cheerleaders. I mentioned previously that I’m really involved. I hope it’s really inspiring. I try to push the girls to go all out and try in hard classes, get involved and join clubs, always be nice to people, never speak rudely at games. [I try to] push them in the right direction, almost like their mother,” Hernandez said.

Organizing events such as car washes to fundraise for her squad, Hernandez and her fellow board members work diligently to provide their team with memorable experiences. (Gabriela Blanco)

With the objective of occupying her time and enlarging her resume, Hernandez walked away with so much more. Having authority to lead and organize her squad, she has taken her role and ran with it. A year into the position, she learned to work towards creating special bonds between her team, ensuring she is not only cheering for the Cavaliers on the team but also her fellow cheerleaders. As spirit officer, Hernandez hopes to serve as a role model for her squad.

“Having Melissa as a spirit officer is so inspiring to the team. She makes sure to connect with each individual cheerleader and create a dynamic where everyone feels comfortable enough to go to her when we are struggling with something. To the team, she brings confidence and determination. She helps the girls feel confident in their abilities and helps them work their way up into a skill,” junior Cinthia Cruz said.

Behind the loud chants and under the pom poms, Hernandez guides her team to success with the help of her strong, communicative board. Embodying the term “school spirit”, she serves as an inspiration to her fellow cheer-mates and anyone who has had the privilege of meeting her.

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About the Contributor
Angelina Morffi
Angelina Morffi, CavsConnect Co-Editor-in-Chief
Junior Angelina Morffi has spent her past two years embodying the term, "school spirit," and it remains on the top of her agenda for her third year at Gables. She currently holds leadership positions in Future Business Leaders of America, Academy of Finance and as she boasts most, in CavsConnect as Co-Editor-in-Chief. Outside of academics, Angelina works as a camp counselor. Tutoring eight-year-olds on simple mathematics and assisting them through their biggest troubles like misplacing crayons or leaving the playground, Angelina has loved serving her community. During her free time, when she is not solving drama caused by toddlers, Angelina loves to remain busy. If she is not addictively passing through levels on Candy Crush or baking from the box, then Angelina is certainly driving friends to Goodwill or stopping at Chill-N for ice cream. With big plans and an even bigger dreams, Angelina is excited to see what the future will bring for her. She is optimistic that whatever feats lie ahead, she will conquer, and whatever opportunities arrive at her door, she will twist open the doorknob.
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