Celebrating Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May celebrates Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month, an annual celebration of achievements by the AAPI community and a time for recognizing their history, culture and central role in U.S. history.

May 2023 – Varsity Spirit Camp Instructor Highlight

This May, Varsity Spirit is recognizing summer camp staff who have helped pave the way and made a difference in the lives of athletes and their peers, while embracing their Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage.


Ethan Huynh – NCA Staff

  • Your cheer background/programs you’ve been involved in:

    • 3 Years of High School Cheerleading (Mark Morris High School | Longview, WA)

    • 4 Years of College Cheerleading (Western Washington University | Bellingham, WA) – 3-year Captain

  • How many years have you been on staff? I’m currently going into my 5th year on NCA Staff!
  • What is your favorite part about being on staff? My favorite part about being on NCA Staff is the connections I get to make. I’m grateful to be surrounded by some of the most talented athletes in the country and learn/grow with them, while teaching the next generation of cheerleaders. I also love the connections I’m able to make with both the coaches and campers. It is so rewarding to help make teams’ goals and dreams at camps come to life and work with some incredible teams. Making an impact and inspiring them to not only be the best cheerleader they can be, but the best person makes the work all worth it. NCA Staff is a family that I am so grateful to be a part of.
  • How has cheer impacted your life? The endless opportunities that I’ve had through cheerleading. I would have never imagined joining cheerleading eight years ago that I would now be combining my passion of cheerleading with my professional career of marketing. Cheerleading has allowed me to grow as an athlete, leader, person, and professional. I’ve also been able to make lifelong friendships and work/learn from some amazing people.
  • What does being AAPI mean to them? Has it had any influence on cheer career? Being able to represent my heritage is huge. Growing up in a small town, there was little diversity, especially on my cheer team. I was the first male cheerleader at my school and was one of the very few that were AAPI in the whole school. Being able to represent not only NCA, but AAPI on staff makes me feel like I’m making a difference and shows that no matter what race, gender, or age, you can do what you love.
Anna Yim – NDA Staff
  • Your dance background/programs you’ve been involved in: I have been dancing for 7 years. I started dancing (spontaneously) on my middle school’s dance team. Throughout high school, I was on the St. Agnes Academy Tiger Girls Dance Team, serving as Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel/Captain as an upperclassman on the team. I competed at NDA High School Nationals for a few years, and once I graduated, I continued pursuing my dance journey on NDA Staff!

  • How many years have you been on staff? This upcoming summer will be my second year on staff!

  • What is your favorite part about being on staff? I love gaining the opportunity to work with countless dancers across the nation and seeing their confidence transform from day 1 to day 4. It inspires ME to work exponentially harder to provide the dancers with what they need in our short time together. Whether at camp, regionals, or nationals, each dancer I met has proven their dedication to themselves, their team, and other teams.

  • How has dance impacted your life? Surprisingly, I never expected dance to become my entire life. Recovering from another extracurricular activity, I spontaneously discovered dance as a young middle schooler, and it has been an incredibly special journey since then. Dance gives me a sense of place. I discover comfort within my individualistic self when I’m in an open space to express myself through movement. Dance is something so unique, that I am unable to explain my interpersonal thoughts and feelings to others.

  • What does AAPI mean to them? Has it had any influence on your dance career? Despite any obstacles, I have become complacent in embracing my Asian American culture; it contributes to my individuality. I jump into environments with and without diversity, and it has equipped me with adaptability. Additionally, being a part of the AAPI community has had a tremendous impact on my dance career. With both positive and negative experiences based on my outer appearance, I nevertheless have been gratefully surrounded by inclusive communities.

Tegan Uemoto – UCA Staff
  • Your cheer background/programs you’ve been involved in: I cheered at Post Falls High School for 4 years, Portland State University for one year, and Boise State University for two years.
  • How many years have you been on staff? This will be my 5th summer on UCA staff.
  • What is your favorite part about being on staff? My favorite part about being on staff is the definitely traveling and immersing myself in the traditions of all the different schools. Having the opportunity to be the person that changes cheerleading from a simple hobby to something so incredibly special and important in their life is the best feeling in the world. Sharing my love for cheerleading everyday is so rewarding.
  • How has cheer impacted your life? Cheerleading has impacted my life in so many ways. Most, if not all of my core memories have came from cheer. I will never forget the feeling you get while walking out into a stadium with thousands of people waiting to be lead and ready to cheer. Or, the warmth of the lights while walking out onto the Nationals mat. These are feelings like no other and are irreplaceable memories. It taught me poise, leadership, and determination that I carry throughout all aspects of my life.
  • What does AAPI mean to them? Has it had any influence on your cheer career? Being AAPI means so much to me. Most of my family lives in Hawaii, and every year I would go to visit, my grandma would gift me a little golden frog. It symbolizes good luck. That is something I have carried with me to every game and competition. This is something small from my culture that I can keep with me everywhere I go. Being AAPI in the cheerleading world, has been so rewarding from getting to share my good luck traditions with teammates to helping campers and others realize there is no specific “look” to cheerleading. In Idaho, I had much darker features than many of my teammates, but it was never something I thought about, and you can look and be whoever you want.
Kyra Azurin – UDA Staff
  • Your dance background/programs you’ve been involved in: I was a part of the Los Alamitos Varsity Song team for all 4 years of high school and senior year I was co-captain of the team. While on this team, I won 5 UDA national titles and 2 world titles.
  • How many years have you been on staff? This will be my 3rd year on UDA staff!
  • What is your favorite part about being on staff? My favorite part about being on staff is getting the opportunity to meet so many people from all over the country. Not only have I met so many of my close friends through UDA but I have also gotten the chance to meet many talented dancers. It is really amazing to be looked at as a role model from being on staff and having the ability to make so many wonderful memories every year.
  • How has dance impacted your life? Dance has impacted my life because it has allowed me to express myself in so many different ways. It has always been an escape from reality and it really helped with self-growth and confidence. It has also helped me develop discipline, perseverance, and dedication. I have learned to work hards towards my goals and to always push through no matter what. Dance has been an outlet for so many great opportunities and has introduced me to some really amazing people.
  • What does being AAPI mean to them? Has it had any influence on dance career?
    • What being an AAPI means to me is the ability to be a role model. I get to show future generations that there are no limitations. All it takes is hard work and passion.
    • Diversity and inclusivity are also very important to me and every team I have ever been on has made an effort to show this. It’s inspiring to me to see this in other aspects of the dance community as well and I’m honored that I get to be a part of it.
D’Ajia Mitchell – Urban Cheer Staff
  • Your cheer background/programs you’ve been involved in:
    • MWR youth cheer – Yokosuka, Japan
    • Lemoore High School (Varsity Cheer) – Lemoore
    • CAAir strike Allstars – Lemoore
    • CANile C. Kinnick High School (Varsity Cheer) – Yokosuka, Japan
    • Grambling State University
  • How many years have you been on staff? This will be my second year on Urban Cheer staff.
  • What is your favorite part about being on staff? My favorite part about being on staff is being able to be someone these young athletes look up to. With this experience, I now have memories of cheering at Grambling State games and having campers come watch me on the sidelines!
  • How has cheer impacted your life? Cheer has not only become my life, but it gives me life. I feel so blessed that my job revolved around cheerleading. This sport has been an outlet for me and has truly become my kryptonite. Cheer has taught me the importance of being resilient and patient in everything I do.
  • What does being AAPI mean to them? Has it had any influence on cheer career? I feel fulfilled knowing that I have students and athletes that look up to me and others, because of our culture. I am proud to make the next little girl or boy that looks like me inspired to chase their goals. This experience has influenced my cheer career by pushing me to continue going after dreams that I have myself. I have been asked to judge tryouts, create routines for my former high school for Far East (one of the largest National Competitions in Japan) and much more. These opportunies allow me to improve my own skills and take them back to my University, where I’m able to teach my teammates.
Thomas Gambao – USA Drum Major Staff
  • Your drum major background/programs you’ve been involved in: Being an Asian American Pacific Islander and being in the Drum Major program means that I have the opportunity to represent my culture in a leadership role. I bleieve I can be a positive role model for other Filipinos and demonstrate that we can lead by example and can serve as quality musicians in the band field.
  • How many years have you been on staff? This year I am celebrating my 20th year as a USA Drum Major Staff!
  • What is your favorite part about being on staff? I love coming back to staff and seeing how the staff members have all evolved and grown, myself included. I love teaching with such a passionate team of band leaders and drum major. Their passion and joy is what I enjoy returning to every year on drum major staff.
  • How has band impacted your life? Drum Majoring has had a huge impact on my life. I learned to be a leader, conductor, and teacher by being a drum major. My first conducting class as a student was through USA and my first time teaching conducting was through drum major camps at USA. I am now a professor of music at the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) at the University of Cincinnati where I teach conducting to undergraduate music majors and graduate conducting students for masters and doctoral students. I also conduct the CCM Wind Ensemble, which is a ensemble comprised of woodwinds, brass, percussion, piano, and harp music majors. Through drum majoring, I have made it my profession, career, and life style.
  • What does AAPI mean to you? How has it impacted your band career? Being AAPI means that I have an ancestry that is not here. It means that my roots are not truly here. I am the son of first generation Filipino Americans, so I feel that my heritage truly resides in the spirit of my family and my Filipino community. This has had an influence on my band career as I have always felt that I was representing not only myself but my heritage. I always want to make my family proud, so there is a bit of pressure that I need to do well. As an AAPI, there has been discussion that being a classical musician in the band career is not really part of my heritage, but I found that this career field is a place where I can still find a community that is more of my personality and less about my race. 
Alexa Castrence – USA Song/Pom Staff
  • Your song/pom background/programs you’ve been involved in: I did song and pom at my high school, Saint Francis High School, and went to USA camp every summer. I was awarded All American for two camps and Dance Star for one camp! I continued to cheer and dance in college on the Loyola Marymount University Spirit Squad. I became captain and am now the current assistant coach.
  • How many years have you been on staff? This summer will be my 5th year as a Song and Pom instructor.
  • What is you favorite part about being on staff? I enjoy the opportunity to both teach and learn lessons that go beyond teaching technique and routines. While those are important components, what makes me come back every summer is the opportunity to make meaningful impacts with my peers and campers. Our role on staff extends beyond the field or gymnasium, as we hope to instill values such as discipline, resilience, teamwork, and leading by example!
  • How has song/pom impacted your life?
    • I’m very passionate about dance! I have been dancing since age 2, competing since age 5, and even double majored in Dance in college at Loyola Marymount University. Dance has taught me transferable skills and values that I hope to instill to the campers every summer such as dedication, resilience, accountability, and being a team player.
    • I have also had the greatest experiences that dance has led me to, such as dancing in the 2012 London Olympics and being in the SuperBowl LVI Halftime Show. I aspire to keep dancing for the rest of my life because of the many positive impacts and experiences it has had on my life.
  •  What does being AAPI mean to them? Has it had any influence on song/pom career? As a second generation Filipino-American, my culture has had a great influence on my life. My family and heritage have shaped my life experiences, values, and upbringing. I grew up listening to stories from my grandparents, who came to America in the late 60s, and how they continued to practice values of resilience, hospitality, hardwork, and optimism, even in the face of oppression and challenges. They continue to instill these values in me while passing down cultural traditions, language/ dialects, history, recipes, songs, and dances that make me proud to be Filipino and part of the AAPI community. It has influenced my song and pom career as I encourage peers to celebrate their cultures in the effort to educate myself and others. I hope to inspire others to be unapologetically themselves and to continue celebrating diversity!
Sarah Nunnick – USA Spirit Staff
  • Your cheer background/programs you’ve been involved in: After earning my brown belt in American Shaolin Kempo at the age of 13, I decided to take a daring switchover to cheerleading. The idea of being part of a team and relying on a stunt group was extremely exciting so I started off by enrolling in tumbling classes at the local gym and trying out for an all-star team. I loved my first year of cheerleading so much that the following year, I joined both the sideline and competitive teams at my high school where I was named captain of the varsity team right before my senior year and went on to place second in the super varsity advanced division at USA Nationals. After graduation, I continued my cheerleading career at the University of California, Davis on both the Gameday and STUNT teams. The team finished in the top 10 teams of Division 1 STUNT in 2019 and I was eventually named captain of both college teams as well.
  • How many years have you been on staff? I am going into my 6th year of serving as a USA staff member!
  • What is your favorite part about being on staff? My favorite part of being on staff is being surrounded by and working with so many talented individuals while helping young athletes discover their confidence through cheerleading.
  • What does being AAPI mean to them? Has it had any influence on cheer career? To me, identifying as AAPI means being part of a powerful community that emphasizes diversity and exudes love. I have carried my Filipina pride throughout my entire cheerleading career, even when I could not find others to identify with. I hope I can influence the younger generations of AAPI athletes to embrace their uniqueness, authentically pursue their own passions, and inspire positive change.

May 2022 – Varsity Spirit Camp Instructor Highlight

This May, Varsity Spirit is recognizing summer camp staff who have helped pave the way and made a difference in the lives of  athletes and their peers, while embracing their Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage.


Jackie Buhay-Castro – UCA Staff

  • About you and your cheerleading history: My first exposure to cheerleading was when I was in 7th grade; I took a break from the sport for about two years before rejoining the cheer world during my sophomore year of high school at Glenbrook South HS. Because of my high school coach, I fell completely in love with the sport. From there, I continued my cheer career for four years at Illinois State University on the Game Day Co-Ed team. During my second year at ISU, I also began my exciting journey as a UCA instructor and traveled the nation doing what I love! In the second half of my senior year, my team and I competed at College Nationals and we had our first taste of the competition side after our program’s long hiatus from competing. After graduating from ISU and at 22 years old, I became the head coach at Loyola University Chicago. Through COVID, we took a 19-month program pause. Returning to my second in-person season at Loyola, we entered the competitive world of College Nationals and performed in the Open All-Girl Game Day division for the first time ever in program history – we advanced to finals and took home a ranking of sixth in the nation! Currently, I will be entering my third season with Loyola and my sixth summer of UCA staff!
  • Title/Programs/Years:  I cheered at Illinois State University Cheerleading for 4 years. I am now coaching at and Loyola University Chicago entering my 3rd season. I have been on staff with Universal Cheerleaders Association for 6 years!
  • What do you love most about being on staff? My favorite part about being on staff is getting to interact with new people and sharing the love of cheerleading with them, especially when it comes to teaching others new skills and techniques!
  • Biggest accomplishment on staff? Being able to teach and app cheerleaders at camp, and watch them become UCA instructors later on in life! Being asked to visit Varsity Spirit HQ for a UCA photoshoot.
  • What does being AAPI mean to you? Has it had any influence on your cheer career? Being a member of the AAPI community means being proud to show off the cultural upbringings and customs that make me who I am. It means that I am forever grateful and rooted to the Filipino traditions that tie my family back to my ancestors. As an Asian-American woman, I am able to be a voice and a model for other members of the AAPI community to make sure that we are receiving equitable standards in communities outside of our own. Being a POC has not negatively impacted my cheer career, but has provided me with a lot of positives. One big positive includes a network of AAPI friends that enjoy cheerleading.
Sherrie Yasukochi – UDA Staff
  • About you and your dance history: I danced for the National Champion, Carlsbad Varsity Dance Team in high school. I am now a member of the San Diego State Dance Team and going into my fourth year! The upcoming summer will be my third year as a member of UDA Staff.
  • What do you love most about being on staff? One of my favorite parts about being a part of UDA staff is having the opportunity to meet and connect with so many talented people from all around the country. We come together with a passion of dance and create so many memories that I will cherish forever.
  • Biggest accomplishment on staff? My greatest UDA staff accomplishment was simply becoming a staff member. I went to UDA camps in high school and always looked up to the staff and knew someday I wanted to be a part of the UDA family. It is a dream come true to be a part of the UDA staff. Another favorite accomplishment was being nominated for rookie of the year!
  • What does being AAPI mean to you? Has it had any influence on your dance career? Growing up, I never really embraced or acknowledged my culture and ethnicity. Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month has helped me to better understand and embrace even my own Asian heritage. AAPI month brings awareness and celebrates our people. I am proud to show Asian representation in the dance community and am so grateful to be surrounded by people who love and accept me. I am thankful for those who have shaped me into the person I am today and helped me to feel confident with who I am inside and out.
Kortni Butler Smith – NCA Staff
  • About you and your cheerleading history: NCA Staff Head Instructor for 11 years. Coming from a small town in Arkansas, going to my first cheer camp in 9th grade (first picture below) was the first time I had seen such a diverse group of people coming together to do something they loved. From that moment, I knew I was in it for the long haul!
  • What do you love most about being on staff? NCA Staff has exceeded my expectations not only in putting me around diverse and talented people, but that my coworkers became friends, family, and even my bridesmaids! Being on staff opened me up to a new world of relationships I didn’t even know I needed.
  • Biggest accomplishment on staff? In 2019 I received the opportunity to work at the Far East Camp in Iwakuni, Japan. It was my first time out of the country and was such an incredible experience! And then in 2021 I hit my 10 year milestone with NCA and received my ring, a lot of laughs and tears reflecting on the best years of my life!
  • What does being AAPI mean to you? Has it had any influence on your cheer career? I’m half Vietnamese and half Laos, but I was adopted at birth into an all white family, and went to an all white school. It wasn’t until I made staff going into my freshman year that I felt a sense of pride from my fellow staffers. I had never truly felt accepted, safe, and empowered to be completely myself until staff, and I wanted to make sure the athletes I instructed every summer felt the same way, regardless of their ethnicity. It pushed me to be bolder, showed me the importance of representation, and made me proud to work any and all camps, from the small home camps to the big overnight camps! I’ve had to learn and accept that however little or much I’m connected to my heritage, is enough. That there isn’t a standard of being AAPI to live up to, but to be respectful, loving, and a bold human being is making my heritage proud.
  • Showing other minorities in Arkansas, and the handful of other Asian adoptees I’ve met over the years, that we have a place in a sport they love, has been the most rewarding and healing part of my career with NCA!
Sarina Lowber – NDA Staff
  • About you and your dance history: I have been dancing competitively since I was 10 years old. I have won 2 world titles (Open large Jazz) in my 8 years of competitive dancing. My studio is the Vision Dance center and I was also a duPont Manual Dazzler for 2 years.
  • What do you love most about being on staff? The thing I love most about being on NDA staff is getting to inspire so many open minded students from such different backgrounds. It really opens up your perspective of the complexities and the horizons of the dance world.
  • Biggest accomplishment on staff? My biggest accomplishment was definitely receiving an All-American ribbon from at my first staff meeting.
  • What does being AAPI mean to you? Has it had any influence on your dance career? I am half Japanese, but I have family in Japan. I am very proud of my heritage and love visiting the country every other summer. Through these trips to Japan, I really learned the connection that dance holds with members of different cultures. During the summer festivals, we perform traditional Japanese dances in front of guests. As someone who’s first language was not Japanese, I found communication and relationships easier in the form of dance.
Kent Giese – USA Drum Major Staff
  • About you and your band history: This is my fifth year on the USA Band Staff and third year as a USA Head Instructor. I was Drum Major at both my high school and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo before joining USA staff, and have 8 total years of Drum Major experience.
  • What do you love most about being on staff? Being on USA staff is such a privilege, the best part being its people. My coworkers on staff are some of the most genuine people I know, and I owe much of my success to them. USA staff is a supportive environment where we help each other grow as instructors and as people. Their encouragement makes serving our students all the more fulfilling.
  • Biggest accomplishment on staff? At USA, I have always strived to identify and achieve my own goals. For example, during my first year on staff, I saw an opportunity to help students improve their schools’ game day experience. To do this, I created curriculum about how to unify the efforts of band, cheer, dance, and mascots to create a more spirited environment.
  • What does being AAPI mean to you? Has it had any influence on your dance career? The Japanese cultural elements and language skills I absorbed as part of my upbringing have enriched my life by helping me create connections with Japanese people and those interested in Japanese culture. After graduating from high school, my mother bravely immigrated from Japan to the United States in spite of having limited English language skills and being only slightly familiar with its culture. Her self-determination inspires me in my life and career.
Heather Fong – USA Staff
  • About you and your dance history: I have been a part of the USA song/pom instructional staff for 20 years! I am in my 18th year as a Songleading Head Instructor.
  • What do you love most about being on staff? What I love most about being on staff is the relationship I have formed with the rest of the staff. It is amazing to be able to work with other individuals that have come from different dance/cheer backgrounds that are just as passionate as I am about what we do. The minute that you join USA, you are a part of this incredible family that has given me so many precious memories, experiences, and friendships that will stay with me long after I am done with the instructional side of our company. I am continually pushed to become a better version of myself each summer.
  • Biggest accomplishment on staff? I have received the Unity award twice during my time on staff which has been one of my biggest accomplishments. The word “United” is part of our company’s name and this award is voted on by all of our programs so being acknowledged by my peers and the rest of our staff means a lot to me.
  • What does being AAPI mean to you? Has it had any influence on your dance career? Being AAPI is a source of pride to me. Given the way I was raised by my amazing parents, my values and character are rooted in my Chinese as well as my American culture. As a third-generation born, I did not fully appreciate what it meant to be Chinese until about the time I was in middle school. So, this serves as a reminder for me to reflect on how grateful I am to be able to celebrate the different family traditions, and celebrations, while I continue to grow more appreciation for my heritage.
  • Growing up, I was often the only Asian (besides my younger sister) at our dance studio, on my Song team in High School, and even on my college dance team. I put more pressure on myself because I created a picture in my head that I stood out because I did not look the same as my teammates. A strong work ethic has always been instilled in me, but served as motivation to work harder and make sure that I had perfected whatever skill we were working on and then some. I spend countless hours practicing at home in the living room or my garage to make sure I would stand out in a positive way. This has also had a great impact on me as a USA instructor and the influence that I have on our students that see themselves in me. That for me is something that makes that part of my job so rewarding!

May 2021 – AAPI Coaches Feature

Hanna Factor Current Coach at Ridge High School and Seaton Hall University, Former UCA Staff Instructor

  • Industry history: Hanna has been coaching Ridge High School in Basking Ridge, NJ and Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ for 4 years in addition to being a UCA Staff Instructor for 8 years.
  • What Hannah loves most about coaching: The journey of seeing cheerleaders master new skills – from doing reps and staying determined, all the way to executing new skills with confidence, and the excitement that goes along with it.
  • Biggest accomplishment as a coach: Inspiring cheerleaders to become coaches themselves! “Watching them develop as coaches, taking what I’ve taught them, and honing their own coaching styles is the most rewarding feeling. It’s awesome seeing their growth from being my athletes to becoming my fellow coaches.”
  • “Being a Filipina has shaped the person I am today because I’ve learned how important representation is, not only in sports, but in life in general. Growing up, I was always looking for people who looked like me to look up to and be inspired by, and now, I feel I can help by being that person for others. I remember my first year coaching at SHU, during my first practice with the team, when one of my incoming freshmen, who was also of Asian descent, came up to me and showed me a photo of her in high school standing next to me when I was a UCA Camp Instructor. She told me how she wanted to take a photo with me because I, too, was Asian. That moment was so fulfilling because just by being one of her staffers at camp, I was able to help her feel like she belonged and that she could be successful in the cheerleading world!”

Megan SeeleyCurrent Coach of Papillion LaVista South Dance Team and No Limits All Stars

  • Industry history: Megan began dance at age three and continued as a studio dancer for 15 years, competing in studio dance for 10 years. In high school, Megan danced for Millard North and continued her dance journey in college as a Rock Chalk Dancer. Megan also shared her love for dance as an 8-year member of UDA Staff in addition to being a school and all star dance team coach.
  • Who inspired Megan on her journey: Eight years ago, Megan met Katie Anway when she was on UDA Staff. Katie was the UDA Competition Director and one of the first Asian women Megan saw in a leadership role. Megan’s hope is to inspire young Asian dancers through her role as a coach and instructor the same way Katie inspired her. Along her coaching journey, Megan was inspired by high school dance coaches Andrea Feltz and Mila O’Brien for their ability to create connections with dancers that last beyond graduation.
  • What Megan loves most about coaching: Building relationships and making connections with each of her dancers. As a full-time school social worker, Megan’s true passion is working with families and children to influence young lives.
  • “This year, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month means more than ever before. I have always been proud of my Asian American background, but oftentimes would attempt to conceal it to prevent any discriminatory comments or racism. With the rise in racial crime and the recent incidents of Asian hate, I am saddened to live in this world at this time, but also empowered to share my story and bring awareness and visibility. I believe that this year, AAPI month gives me a chance to speak out about my experience and encourage empathy and social justice to those discriminated against. I share my perspective to pave the path for my future children and for future Asian leaders to encourage change. Living as an Asian American is something I will never regret or hide. The qualities that make us diverse should be celebrated because it makes the world a more exciting and interesting place.”
Analisa Price Current Coach at CheerForce San Diego (NFINITY & FRENZY)

  • Industry history: Analisa has been in the cheer industry for 30 years, beginning her career at Champion Outlaws before moving to SoCal Elite. Shortly after, SoCal Elite merged with West Coast Mavericks to become part of the Cheer Force family, where Analisa has coached for the past 12 years.
  • What Analisa loves most about coaching: Teaching athletes more than cheerleading. Being able to teach her teams to be unselfish, responsible, reliable, trustworthy and dedicated are always at the top of her coaching agenda.
  • How Analisa’s heritage has shaped who she is today: Analisa’s family taught her to work hard for what she wants and stressed the importance of caring and showing love and respect. It’s those values and traditions that have shaped Analisa into who she is toady and cross over to her coaching philosophy.
  • “Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is a time to recognize and celebrate the beauty of our people. It’s a time to gather, a time to share memories. It’s an opportunity to teach and learn our history and traditions.”

Celia KiogimaCurrent Head Cheer and STUNT Coach at Davenport University

  • Industry history: Celia started as a competitive gymnast but shifted her focus and passion to cheer. In 2009, she began teaching summer camps in Michigan, where she fell in love with coaching. From there, she went on to coach at West Ottawa High School for four years before transitioning to the collegiate level as the assistant coach at Davenport University. In 2016, Celia was hired as the Head Coach of the Cheer and STUNT programs at Davenport.
  • What Celia loves about coaching: The relationships made with athletes. Celia’s proud of the fact that she tries to remember every athlete she has ever coached, as every athlete teaches her something different. She loves seeing the women they turn out to be after cheer.
  • Favorite family tradition: The Korean tradition Doljabi, which is celebrated on a child’s first birthday. Doljabi is a tradition where the child is placed in front of various items or objects and encouraged to grab a couple objects. Each item represents a certain future of the child with respect to their career or lifestyle. As a new mom, Celia can’t wait to celebrate Doljabi with her little one!
  • “Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is a celebration of beautiful cultures and traditions. It takes time to recognize and honor the incredible influence that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have on the American culture and way of life.”