Kekaha cheer team wins nationals

  • Photo courtesy Michelle Chiba

    The Kekaha Titans Pop Warner cheer team stops for a photo with the championship trophy from the 2017 Pop Warner National Cheer & Dance Championships in Orlando, Fla. From left: Laulea Durant, Hailey Mata, Kiara Gandia, Tristan Raposas, Gianna Pimental-Piccirilli, Deyshia Kenney, Qiyrah Rapanot, Harmony Woodman, Amaya Andres, Hayley Oyamot-Taniguchi, Jayla Albina, Kaytelyn Butac-Kahawai, Wailenalena Kaohi and Tisha Burton.

A local cheer team has just won nationals.

The Kekaha Titans Pop Warner Cheerleading team took first place in its division at the 2017 Pop Warner National Cheer &Dance Championships on Monday in at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.

“It was pretty awesome. We’re kind of in a whirlwind right now,” said Michelle Chiba, Kekaha Titans Cheer head coach, on Thursday. “They’re kind of in shock there for a little while. I’m so very proud of them. They worked hard all season.”

The Kekaha team won the Junior Varsity PW3 Medium division. Divisions vary on grade level, expertise level and the number of members a team has.

The Titans won with a score of 88.20 percent. The Oxford Wolverines team was second with 84.92 percent, and the Avalon Wolves team was third with 84.54 percent.

The score is based on the average score from the number of judges. Scoring is based on several catagories such as choreography, performance and showmanship, dance, jumps and stunts, Chiba said.

Other cheer teams from Kauai competed as well. The Hanapepe Colts cheer team placed fifth in the JV PW3 Medium division with a score of 82.84 percent

The Kapaa Eagles cheer team placed second in the JV PW3 Small division with 85.68 percent. The Tauton Tigers won the division with 88.50, and the Jacksonville Beach Jaguars were third with 84.46 percent.

The teams advanced to nationals after qualifying at regionals on Kauai in October.

“On Kauai, we actually placed second. Our girls were kind of disappointed, but the fought,” Chiba said. “They trained so hard these past couple of months. It was crazy. They’ve been going home with bumps and bruises crying. It’s pretty amazing to see them come out on top after seeing them go through all the things they went through.”

For a few of Kekaha’s cheer members, it’s the first time traveling off Kauai. The ESPN venue is part of the Walt Disney World Resort.

“It’s amazing. You can’t go wrong with Disney, right?” Chiba said. “At least five of my girls have never been off Kauai. So for them, it’s a real eye-opening opportunity to see what’s out there. When we go and compete at that place, there’s thousands of cheerleaders everywhere. There’s football also going on at this time. There’s a whole bunch of people.”

She added: “I just want to thank our league for helping us get here and everything that they’ve done. And also for ourselves, we’d like to thank our parents and our Kekaha community who’ve supported these girls with all the fundraising we had to do to get here. It’s really a community effort. … This trophy is for them, too, because they got us here.”

  1. Sunrise_blue December 8, 2017 9:33 am Reply

    Long ways from home. What about school? Or tossed out. Or not in school.

    1. Joshua Burton December 9, 2017 11:57 pm Reply


      All these student athletes are in school. So are the thousands across the nation that participate in Pop Warner. None of them are “tossed out” or “not in school”.

      They are required to maintain atleast a 2.0 GPA and have grade checks during season. When they are on travel, they bring their school work with them and have study hall.

      “Pop Warner’s commitment to academics is what separates the program from other youth sports around the world.
      As the only national youth sports organization that requires scholastic aptitude to participate, Pop Warner is committed to developing America’s young people on the field and off.”

      Read here:

      -Josh Burton

  2. Alumni December 11, 2017 6:39 pm Reply

    As an alumni to Pop Warner, I vividly remember going on trips. We would pack about 50 pounds worth of textbooks and homework onto the plane to study. We were sure to have all of our homework/projects completed well.
    So instead of “assuming” these young students athletes are being tossed out in school, you should praise them for balancing school and sports instead of drugs and pregnancy.

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