The UE Pep Squad finished fifth in the past two years of the UAAP Cheerdance Competition.
Still, their consistent finish over the previous years only means that their podium absence has extended to 14 years.
They want nothing more than to avoid stretching that skid to 15 years.
The Recto-based squad’s last podium finish, and so far their best outing, was way back in 2002 when they came up second behind the UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe that would eventually complete an unprecedented five-peat.
From 2003 on, UE has been left looking up from the bottom four of the pack and their consistent, albeit modest, two-year run at fifth is already a source of motivation for the team.
“Naniniwala kami that every year is a chance to prove we are better from last year,” said UE coach Dico Joe Ili in an online interview with ABS-CBN Sports. “Hindi kami titigil hangga’t hindi namin nakukuha ang championship at magpapatuloy pa yun from there.”
Among their preparations is going back to basics and being more focused on their athlete’s conditioning, both physically and mentally, which could help boost how they can perform their routines.
“Pinagtuunan lang din namin ng pansin yung strength and power na aspeto ng atleta,” Ili bared, “And then we tried harder to improve lalo na sa tumblings at dance.”
A new battlecry is also rallying UE’s cheerdance troops to bring out the best out of each member.
“Sabi nga namin ngayon, WE WILL RISE – stronger, fiercer, bolder. We really wanted to show how good they are and happily nano-notice na naman sila,” Ili said.
Still, members of the UE Pep Squad just want to put on a great spectacle and they’re hoping that mentality could help them earn a higher finish this time around.
“Sa totoo lang mapakita lang namin ngayon na hindi na kami tutupi magiging masaya na kami. We want to witness the best of what God has offered for us,” said Ili.
From past shortcomings and delays, and even being undermanned, the UE Pep Squad has had their fair share of problems while preparing.
“May lumipat ng team, may mga nadagdag, pero this year kulang kami. 24 lang kami magco-compete,” Ili said. “Ang hirap ilagay sa utak ang goal na iisa lang.”
But UE is confident it can live out its dream of a higher finish this year because of their intact core and undying belief in each and every one.
“Good thing is we are going there. Konti na lang,” said Ili. “Happy kami kasi sila-sila pa rin yung kasama naming nag-start when we dreamt for a very good team,” he said.
This story was originally published on the ABS-CBN Sports website.
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