If you’ve ever wondered if all-star cheerleading is a sport, consider this: Can you toss another human being more than 15 feet into the air? Can you do a backflip from a standstill? Or a cartwheel—without your hands ever touching the floor?

All-star cheerleaders can.

But if that doesn’t convince you, in 2016, the International Olympic Committee voted to recognize competitive cheerleading as a sport and gave it provisional Olympic status.

“Yes, all-star cheerleading is a sport,” said Stacey Lee Vinoray. “It’s extremely competitive and requires a lot of hard work, athleticism, dedication, commitment and money. You have two minutes and thirty seconds on the mat to show everything you’ve got.”

Vinoray, a REALTOR® with NextHome Pacific Properties, knows the benefits of cheerleading firsthand. The former high school cheerleader signed on to be a volunteer coach for Maui Cheer Allstars ten years ago, and since then, she’s worked alongside her cousin, Marilyn Valencia, the owner and co-director of the Lahaina-based cheerleading squad. “I volunteered to help because cheer and dance are my passions,” Vinoray explained.

And it’s not her first foray into coaching; she’s also a volunteer cheer coach at her alma mater, Lahainaluna High School. “I have been involved with supporting Lahainaluna High School cheerleading since 2002, when I first became a REALTOR®,” she said. “Since then, I have been a part of a number of all-star teams: Maui Cheer Allstars, Cheer808 Maui, Maui Cheer Academy and Maui Cheer Force.”

Maui Cheer Allstars is a non-school-affiliated, competitive cheer team. Its mission is to “teach fundamentals of all-star cheerleading while promoting discipline, dedication and teamwork in a fun environment.”

And the squad has certainly made its mark.

“We may be small in numbers, but we have big hearts,” Vinoray said. “To date, we have won 24 national championships, 17 international championships, two grand championships, and ranked tenth in the Inaugural U.S. D2 Summit.”

There are thousands of all-star cheer programs nationwide. Far from the traditional sideline cheerleading you see at football and basketball games, all-star teams compete in local, national and international competitions where they perform two-and-a-half minute routines featuring gravity-defying stunts, jumps, tumbling, pyramids, basket tosses and dance moves. Similar to gymnastics, judges score routines based on their level of difficulty, precision, creativity and entertainment value.

Vinoray clearly relishes her role as a coach. “Helping to minister the importance of decision-making, having faith in themselves, gaining confidence and learning to work together as a team toward building a stunt or pyramid or learning choreography—it’s super fun and exciting,” she said. “The team, the parents, the coaching staff—everyone gives the best of themselves, and having that be a part of your daily life is amazing. I feel I get more from coaching than I could ever give.”

Maui Cheer Allstars is now gearing up for a competition on Oahu in February with the hopes of securing a bid for an invitation to the D2 Summit, which will be held May 11-13 in Orlando, Florida. “We have a number of upcoming fundraisers in the works, so if you’re approached by anyone from Maui Cheer Allstars, please kokua if you can,” Vinoray said. “We are grateful for our Maui Cheer Allstars Ohana and the entire community for always supporting us in our travels. And special shout out to our coaching staff: Marilyn Valencia, Mary Ann Corpuz, Anuhea Doran, Charlie Perreira and Kahaia Lilikoi.”

Vinoray encourages others to consider volunteering. “Get involved in your community,” she said. “Support the schools and nonprofits because they fill in the gaps where our government is unable to provide for our keiki and our kupuna.” Quoting Mahatma Ghandi, Vinoray said, “‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.’”

To learn more about Maui Cheer Allstars or to find out how you can support the squad in its fundraising efforts, email mauicheeracademy@gmail.com or visit www.facebook.com/Maui-Cheer-Allstars-151709031525695.

By Sarah Ruppenthal
The Maui News – October 20, 2018

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