Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

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Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is a celebration of the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to our history, culture, and achievements. This May, Varsity Spirit is recognizing coaches and staff who have helped pave the way and made a difference in the lives of their athletes, while embracing their Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage.

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

“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!”

  • 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.”

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

“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. “

  • 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.

Analisa Price Current Coach at CheerForce San Diego (NFINITY & FRENZY)

“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.”

  • 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.

Celia KiogimaCurrent Head Cheer and STUNT Coach at Davenport University

“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.”

  • 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 means that because of the contributions and influence that this community has had in the US, I can be unapologetically me, confident in my skin, and feel empowered to accomplish any of the goals I set for myself. It means that I have the responsibility of representing my Filipino culture and Asian heritage, while inspiring others like me.” – Hannah Factor

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