Ottawa University-Arizona has always been a special place for Alyssa Aguilar-Mendoza and her family.
Her late brother Eddie Aguilar-Mendoza, who was a standout soccer player for Sierra High, was part of the inaugural program. He died in a single-car accident September 2017 (his organs were donated to improve the lives of others) and, according to his mother Maribel Mendoza, his jersey was retired soon after.
Miguel Villasenor, Alyssa and Eddie's brother, also played soccer for the Spirits of the National Athletic Intercollegiate Association's Garden State Athletic Conference.
Alyssa Aguilar-Mendoza is proudly stepping in the footsteps of her brothers. On Friday, she inked a letter of intent to do competitive cheer for Ottawa University-Arizona.
"I wanted to come here and make them proud," she said, referring to brothers Eddie and Miguel (she had portraits of the two prominently displayed during her special signing session at the SHS cafeteria).
Like her brothers, Alyssa played soccer at Sierra High.
But she also did competitive cheer for seven years including Cheer Odyssey.
Last month, she was on the campus of Ottawa University-Arizona for the Spirits cheer squad tryouts.
"There were five rounds of tryouts — I made it through every single round," Aguilar-Mendoza said.
She was thrilled to be offered a scholarship for the only school that she considered to be very special.
"We're proud of her," said her mother Maribel "This university has been awesome to our entire family."