Kerman Youth Cheer Wins National Titles

FRESNO, Calif.

"Once we all came together we knew that's the team we're supposed to be," said eighth grader Marissa Huerta. "People call us 'The Dream Team,' and that's who we hope to be."

Currently in seventh and eighth grades, the girls won the Jamz Fresno regional last November, earning a spot in the national competition in Las Vegas last month.

"I never wanted to hear the words 'I can't,' and that's what they never said," said Choreographer Willie Redman. "They never said I can't do this. I will try."

And on the biggest stage of the season. Kerman Senior Cheer did more than try. They rocked it, winning first place in both the Pom and Hip Hop competitions.

"It was exciting," said seventh grader Clarissa Gonzalez. "All the lights were on us, the spotlight on us. It was amazing."

"That was just a shock," said Huerta. "We all cried. We were crying from joy. We were just all excited. We just kept on screaming and screaming. We really did make it happen."

But for these girls, winning is just the end result of years of hard work on the field, in the gym and in the classroom. They're more than teammates. They're a family.

"You go up there and you're like let's have fun, let's do it," said Redman. "And for them to just be like 'You know what? We're going to do this. And we're going to excel at this. It's the proudest moment."

They are living proof that it doesn't matter how small your hometown is. What matters is how big your goals are, and what you're willing to do to achieve them.

"Never give up, try your hardest, and work hard," said Gonzalez.

"A lesson learned to when I have kids I can tell them 'Well I did this when I was younger. It's something you may want to do,'" said Huerta. "It was just a really good memory."

Of course having the support of an entire city doesn't hurt either.

"It's got the support that it needs," said Kerman Cheer Coordinator Vicki Blair. "It's got great civic community leaders. It's got a great district that lets us use the facilities. You have to have a good support system and you have to be positive."

A formula for success if there ever was one: Allowing small-town girls to earn big-time accolades. And putting Kerman, California, on the map.

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