Lewis Varsity Cheer Hits Zero

Lancer Cheerleaders faced obstacles from illness to injury but enjoyed a triumphant season.


Courtesy of Javier Martinez

Lewis’ Varsity Cheer team enjoys a season of accomplishments: placing second and third for invitation competitions and hitting zero at Districts.

Stefani Ortiz Martinez, Guest Writer

Lewis Varsity Cheer team enjoyed an amazing season performing five different routines in competitions and halftime shows. The Lancers earned second and third place at invitationals, and despite major obstacles, the team performed respectfully at Districts and Regionals.

The team is coached by head coach Jillian Domenech and assistant coach Alexis Wilkerson. The team captains for sideline are sophomore Emily Munoz, junior Joseline Pedroza, senior Kellyn Castillo, senior Kaila Saunders, senior Jennifer Troung, and senior Jessica Castro. The team captains for competition are seniors Jessica Castro, Jessica Hoang, and Kaila Saunders.

Some major accomplishments occurred before the fall season began. Over the summer, Lancer cheerleaders attended their first sleep-away National Cheerleading Association camp and were awarded a bid to Nationals for the first time.

Lancer Cheer’s goal is to always place in the top four and so far this year they have succeeded through their invitationals. 

Lancer Cheer competed at Hayfield where they placed second but first in their district. 

At the Annandale competition, Lewis cheerleaders had to make a last minute changes due to COVID-related challenges. Just with one absence, the team had to make changes to the routine in just two hours and all cheerleaders had to wear masks while competing. Lewis still placed third. 

At District, they placed fourth despite team injuries. Most significantly, the Lancers hit zero (meaning no deductions or stunt falls) at Districts. 

Senior Giselle Bonilla serves Lancer Cheer as main base.

‘I mainly [do] base because stunting is my strongest suit,” Bonilla said.

Bonilla has been on Lewis varsity team since her freshman year, but she has been cheering for most of her life. “I did SYC cheer when I was in elementary and middle school and I did Cheer Extreme All-Stars for two seasons,” Bonilla said.

Bonilla was joined in Cheer Extreme All-Stars by Lewis teammate, senior Maria Hodges.

One of the team’s hardest challenges this year was districts. “Our toughest competition this season was district because we didn’t place as we wanted,” Hodges said.

Bonilla also viewed District Finals as the toughest challenge. “Before the day came, our routine was changed last minute again and it stressed everyone out. I was stressed because I didn’t hit my pyramid completely yet until the day came. All those tears and sweat were worth it because we left it all on that mat,” Bonilla said.

Sophomore Javier Martinez (backspot and base) enjoyed his first year on varsity after competing on JV last year. He has worked hard for his spot on the team and his achievements are amazing: from NCA All-American to Athlete of the Month at Lewis.

Martinez has already fulfilled all of his goals for this season. “I was also recognized by one of the coaches at JMU. I also got invited to visit JMU and the coach at JMU told me I have to get tumbling, and I’ll have a secure spot on his team, “ Martinez said.

Lewis’ cheer  team has a bond like no other. The cheerleaders are in agreement that the team’s greatest strength is the bond. 

Bonilla describes their team as “a strong, driven, motivated group of people who don’t give up. We’re each other’s therapists and we always have each other’s backs. We all love each other and we’re basically best friends even outside of cheer. We always hang out with each other,” Bonilla said.

Bonilla is satisfied with Lewis’ performance in all competitions this season, praising the team above all others. “This is honestly the best team I’ve ever been on. I would choose this team over any All-Star or World’s team. The bond we have is what makes competitions so fun and memorable. We have many different types of celebrations and inside jokes,” Bonilla said.

Coach Jillian is so proud of the accomplishments, hard work, and commitment this season’s Lancers have brought to the floor. Among many of the team’s accomplishments, Coach Jillian mentions that hitting zero “will be a memory forever. The routine and performance that the athletes put on for districts and regionals was difficult, but such an amazing show to watch,” the coach said.

Lancer Varsity Cheer has eight seniors leaving the team this year, which Coach Jillian describes as “bittersweet.” “They always have a place here at Lewis and within the cheer community. We love seeing returning athletes and alum come to visit and give feedback!” the coach said.

Sophomore cheerleader Anna Buchhofer feels similarly about Lewis’ varsity cheer team as they approach the end of the season.

“This team deserved the world. I am so proud of what we put on the mat,” Buchhofer said.

Lancer fans who saw the varsity cheerleaders compete know how well they performed and are all so proud of the team for this season’s accomplishments. Many on Lewis team say they won #1 in the hearts of fans.