Cardona breaks barriers with every twirl

Posted on March 7, 2017

By Gracie Suavillo

Two years ago, Angel Cardona (’18) was in awe as he watched the performance of Marvin Dollano (’15), the only male on pep flags. Now, he finds himself standing in that same position.
Since his freshman year, Cardona always looked forward to trying out for pep flags. He was amazed that a male could participate in flags, leading to his decision to try out himself.
Another influence to his decision were his friends, especially teammate Alexis Roach (’18).
“He’s always willing to work extra hours after school or on weekends and I think we all can acknowledge that being a male on pep team is a rare sight these days,” Roach said.
She has “witnessed inappropriate and rude remarks” concerning his gender.
“I know Angel has heard these rude and nasty comments and I couldn’t be prouder of him for sticking to who he is,” she said.
Cardona did not try out as an incoming freshman because he did not know what high school had to offer.
“I never saw myself doing [pep flags] and felt like I didn’t have what was needed,” Cardona said.
Going into sophomore year, he finally made the decision to try out but was not accepted to the team.
“I felt like I didn’t do enough to show my true potential,” Cardona said.
There was a point when Cardona did not want to audition again.
However, Cardona convinced himself to not give up and told himself that “even the best of the best are not perfect and everyone makes mistakes.”
At the end of his sophomore year he made a second attempt and earned a spot on the team as a junior varsity member.
“I gave it all I had,” Cardona said. “Trying outmeant that I had the satisfaction of knowing I tried.”
Since Cardona is the only male on the team, he believes that “I have to do better because I have more eyes on me.”
The challenges Cardona faced were passing the cheer evaluations.
Being on the football field and looking at the crowd was an experience that felt weird to him at first. He also faced physical challenges like keeping up his energy throughout the routines, and constant soreness from practicing everyday.
Because he is a junior varsity member, Cardona wants to live up to the many years of hard work from previous members. He overcame these obstacles towards the end of the season, and he felt that it was all worth it for the memories, friendships, and experiences that he has created.
Cardona even made a big accomplishment of being selected for the competitive team.
“Angel is a dedicated attribute to our pep flags family,” Coach Aneeka Atwal (’11) said. “His hard work and consistent urge to improve is what has made him the first male on Hoover pep flags comp squad.”
Judgment from other people was an aspect that Cardona feared “because most people are afraid of people being different from them.”
Cardona’s family supports his decision with being on the pep team. His mother is especially supportive of him being his own person by joining the team.
“It is something that motivates him and as long as he does it, I’ll support him, even if it means that I have to drive him everywhere and wake up extra early,” mother Fabiola Cardona said.
Although Cardona does not want to continue pep flags after high school, he plans on continuing his time on the team until the end of his senior year.
“I’m clearly amazed and astounded that I have made that impact on Angel and I hope he does the same for someone else and other people, too,” Dollano said, when informed about Cardona being inspired by his participation on pep flags.
“I’m glad I took my chance and built memories and friendships, and I’m appreciative of the impact it had on me as a person.”
Just as how Dollano inspired Cardona, Cardona hopes to inspire other males to join pep flags.

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