Photo by Paul Sugano.
Central Colleges of the Philippines (CCP) head coach Arnold Villanueva established the Bobcats’ cheer program in 1999 and won countless of championships through the years. He also made his mark in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) and coached the Adamson Pep Squad from 2010 to 2016; developing the program they used when they won the cup last year.
Now, Villanueva will be highlighting his cheerleading brilliance in the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) with the Letran Cheering Squad (LCS). Villanueva looks to change the culture for the Muralla-based cheerleaders and eyes a podium finish for this season and a championship in the next few.
Villanueva was recruited by Letran athletics moderator Fr. Victor Calvo O.P., at first, he thought of it as a joke, but when he realized that Calvo means business, the current CCP coach did not hesitate.
“Ang importante ay kung ano ‘yung pwede natin maitulong sa mga bata and the kind of program that we’ll put up for Letran,” he said.
Upon his arrival to the team, Villanueva knew that a major rebuilding is needed. Last year, he made his presence felt by helping the team finish seventh overall; climbing two places above the squad’s ninth place finish before he took over.
At an early stage, Villanueva has already made an impact to his dancers. LCS team captain Vivienne Velasquez shared her thoughts regarding his new mentor: “They helped me to become a good leader. I should be the role model eh, kaya sabi ko sa squad ko ‘pag nasa mats na, trabaho na muna pag biruan biruan alam nila dapat yung limitations nila,” she said, as she was tasked by Villanueva to lead the team from the mats. The arrival of a championship caliber coach does not assure a championship. But with coach Villanueva calling the shots, it’s only a matter time before LCS strives to the top of the team standings. Villanueva dubbed his dancers as the ‘dark horse’ for this season.
“With this people, I wouldn’t be surprised if they finish third sa championship. It would not be correct if I say it’s impossible, let’s just say dark horse. Dark horse talaga sya,” he said of his team.
“It’s not the skill that will matter, more importantly, it’s the kind of motivation and the passion that you give when you perform,” he added.