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Dublin High School Cheer Work Ethic Leads to JAMZ Nationals Trophies in Las Vegas

February 14, 2013

Dublin High School Junior Varsity Cheerleading Pyramid

The Giants won their second World Series title in three years, the 49ers came up just short of winning a sixth Super Bowl Championship, and closer to home the Dublin High School Cheer teams gave the City of Dublin something to celebrate. Over the February 8th weekend, the Junior Varsity and Varsity Cheer teams traveled to Las Vegas to compete in the JAMZ 2013 School Cheer Nationals Competition, and both teams returned Nationals champions (video of the winning performances is included below, courtesy of Dublin School Board President Greg Tomlinson).

For many of us, our cheerleading knowledge is limited to memories of high school rallies or Hollywood depictions in movies like “Bring It On”. In reality, Cheer has evolved into a multi-faceted, competitive sport with national exposure, including competitions showcased on sports networks like ESPN.

The real story of Dublin High School Cheer goes far beyond the trophies and first place wins; the real story is one of commitment, hard work and the life lessons learned by those that step up to the challenge of competitive cheerleading. recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dublin High School Cheer Head Coach and visionary Kristine Cousins.

Kristine represents the best of our parent volunteers. As a native of West Covina, she participated in cheer as a middle and high school student. She moved up to Dublin and started her family. Professionally, Ms. Cousins owns and operates a small business. While her youngest child had expressed an interest in cheer as a fifth grader at Dougherty Elementary School, Kristine “carried the flag” as they matriculated to Fallon Middle School and expressed her passion for the continuation of a cheer program at Fallon with then-Principal Tess Johnson. Ms. Johnson supported her enthusiasm and the program carried forward for another three successful years. The program began with 19 students and expanded to almost 80 students. At the time, Kristine believed that she had fulfilled all of her goals, but an opportunity to carry on at Dublin High School emerged due to a relocation of the existing coach. What to do?

At the end of the day, Ms. Cousins stepped up and agreed to lead the program. While still trying to find her way, the Dublin High School Cheer teams competed effectively at a high level. In 2012, the Varsity cheer team prevailed, capturing a championship title. Along the way the number of students participating in the Dublin High School Cheer program has expanded dramatically, and the Cheer program received national attention in 2010 with the compelling story of DHS graduate and former cheerleader Rachel Cooperstein. While last year’s accomplishments were great – nothing is a given. How did your two teams qualify to compete in the Championship Tournament in Las Vegas?

Dublin High School Cheerleading Head Coach Kristine Cousins

Kristine Cousins: “It’s a process. We needed to again register with a JAMZ-authorized competition in Northern California. Both the JV and Varsity squads attained first place at an October competition at Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo. We advanced to a regional competition at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. While our Varsity team earned Second Place overall, our JV team was awarded ‘Grand Champion’ status – this represented the highest scores attained by ALL school teams in the competition. It was awesome.” Cheer is no different than participating in any sport or band. What expectations do you have of you students and what do they need to represent?

Cousins: “There are minimum GPA levels that they must all maintain. School attendance is monitored and we employ a community involvement component.” Which means?

Cousins: “There have been retail openings, like the new Target off of Tassajara, where we’ve been asked to appear. There was a MADD event at Hacienda Crossings and we will participate in the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March.” This is surely not a singular achievement. Who would you like to acknowledge for the team’s success? And how have you motivated both groups to defend their titles?

Cousins: “First, I must thank the ‘village’ of parental support. Through this experience, I’ve made life-long friends. Much credit must be given to our two Coaches, Ashley Maldonado (JV) and Jacque Steffenson (Varsity), Choreographer Mike DeGuzman and to the FIT Potato for ensuring our fitness goals for the long haul.

“In terms of motivation, my mantra was ‘bigger, better and stronger’. While I could choose to say this every day, I needed our team to embrace this challenge. Our goal was to move off of complacency, to get better and to not move one step backwards. “

To see both sides of this story, we sought out an active member of the team. Ms. Quinn Bennett is currently at sophomore at Dublin High School and is in her second year as a member of the JV Cheer team. She recently competed at the JAMZ Nationals in Las Vegas as a member of the JV team. As one of the younger members of the team, why did you pursue the cheer team?

Dublin High School Cheerleader  Quinn Bennett

Quinn Bennett: “I had a brief experience at Wells Middle School in eighth grade as the program was just beginning to develop there. The environment at Dublin High was very open. Ms. Cousins has the philosophy that anyone that was willing to become committed would have the opportunity to participate in Sideline, at a minimum. Of course, the commitment to Competition would involve a greater level of work.” How much time do you and your teammates devote to training/practice during competition season?

Bennett: “It varies, but it can be up to 2-3 hours and up to three times per week after school.” To date, what has your process and the competition in Las Vegas meant to you?

Bennett: “So much. It has helped me gain another family – I’ve become close to many of my teammates. As a team, we have also had to overcome so much – injuries and personal matters, alike. When you watch our routines, we have two bases, the back spots and flyers. If anyone falls to injury, our team needs to modify on the fly in order to be prepared for competition.” Would you like to say anything about your coach, Kristine Cousins?

Bennett: “We hope that you stay beyond next year. Be the coach for my senior year!” would like to thank both Ms. Cousins and Ms. Bennett for their contributions to this story. The Dublin High School Cheer teams don’t need to worry about the other local ball teams, because together, they are GIANT.

Related articles:

Dublin High School JV Performance – JAMZ Nationals 2013

Dublin High School JV Win Announcement – JAMZ Nationals 2013

Dublin High School Varsity Performance – JAMZ Nationals 2013

Dublin High School Varsity Win Announcement – JAMZ Nationals 2013

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