Council applauds ‘small squad from small town’
LIHU‘E — The small squad from a small town on Kaua‘i became the eighth best in the nation, said Kaua‘i County Council member Mel Rapozo Wednesday.
The Lihu‘e Patriots’ Junior Midget cheer squad was also recognized by the council, but the Hanapepe Colts Junior Peewee cheer squad had its moment in the busy Kaua‘i County Council calendar to be recognized for its achievement.
“The Kaua‘i County Council commends and congratulates the Hanapepe JRW Colts Cheerleaders for its participation in the 2012 Pop Warner National Cheer Competition, which was held on Dec. 3, 2012, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida,” the commendation states. “Beaming with smiles, which could be seen from a mile away, the Hanapepe JPW Colts Cheer Squad performed a stellar routine with no penalty deductions and was awarded a total score of 393.50, finishing in eighth place out of 18 squads competing in the JPW Cheer Level 1, Small category.”
Shen Balmidiano, the JPW Colts Cheer head coach, said the trip was a good experience for the young girls (aged between 9 and 11 years old) who had never been to Florida before.
Council member Ross Kagawa, who played for the Hanapepe Pop Warner Association in the 1970s, said he always admired the spirit of the cheerleaders who were always enthusiastic, whether the team won or lost.
The team had another thrill in Florida — the sight of squirrels.
“The squirrels alluded to by coach Balmidiano is symbolic of the type of opportunities which are available to our youth today,” said Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura. “I never saw a squirrel until I was 16 years old.”
Balmidiano said the Hanapepe Pop Warner Association is appreciative of the businesses, sponsors and the community for making the trip a possibility for the youngsters.
She said it cost approximately $1,400 for each individual, excluding spending money, to get to Florida and the community donated at least half of the cost of sending the team to Florida.
“The squirrels are kind of like the chickens,” Balmidiano said. “The tourists go crazy over the chickens we have. Over there, we go crazy when we see squirrels and raccoons while the people just kind of shrug their shoulders at them.”
Joining Balmidiano in the coaching box are Krystyn Apuna and Ashley Ulanday.
Cheer members include Qayjah Apuna, Daleijah “Pomai” Campos-Banasihan, Kaira Kelekoma, Aiyana Lagazo-Lagmay, Taylor Montemayor and Isley Ulanday.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or firstname.lastname@example.org.