Nobody would ever look at Sierra High varsity cheer captain Melisa Monciardini and think that she was at one time a shy wallflower that never thought she would get noticed when she arrived on the campus.
The bubbly, outgoing and friendly pillar of the 18-member squad responsible for keeping the crowd quickly shed that shell, and has become one of the leaders within the program – participating not only on competitive teams but during basketball season as well.
That means she must juggle her responsibilities as the president of yearbook and as a student on top of the hours of work that being a captain takes – searching for routine music, figuring out which moves transition to the song and how to put it all together in a single package.
With college just around the corner Monciardini is reveling in every moment that she gets to wear the uniform and spend time with the other 17 girls that have become like sisters to her not only this year but over the other three that she’s been active within the sport.
The Bulletin sat down with her to see what life is like as both a cheer captain and a student:
What’s the most stressful thing about being a cheer captain?
“Getting out the message to all of the girls about what to wear on Friday and making sure that we’re all ready to go. There’s a lot of work that goes into it during the week.”
What was the last movie that you saw?
“Paranormal Activity 4. That was crazy.”
Last book that you read?
“Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1. I can’t wait for the second movie to come out. I already have my tickets.”
What is the best thing about being captain?
“It’s about being a leader. Ever since I was a freshman I enjoyed being part of a team. At first I was quiet, but I eventually stepped it up and showed them that I could be a leader. I thought I wasn’t going to be anything in high school – when I first tried out as a freshman I didn’t think that I was going to make it. But now being a cheerleader is who I am, and I love it.”
Favorite type of music?
“Pop music. I love Katy Perry. I love her music and her lyrics and where she came from. She’s very inspirational. I went to her concert too.”
How much work goes into creating a routine?
“You have to come up with the moves and make sure that the routine flows well. The placement has to be something that goes with the music. It really depends on the squad. It’s something that really comes to me – I enjoy putting the moves together.”
How do you like your eggs?
“Scrambled. Definitely scrambled.”
How is cheerleading – and to an extent cheerleaders – misunderstood?
“A lot of people judge you just by your uniform, not what it is you bring. People look at you and think, ‘She’s snobby’ just because you’re a cheerleader – that’s how it’s portrayed. But really we’re leaders and we work hard at what we do.”
Do you think that people misjudge the difficulty of what cheerleaders do?
“Definitely. People think that it’s easy, and that it’s not a sport and we don’t really do anything. We work so hard and tumble and lift girls in the air – they don’t know because they don’t see us practicing the work that we do. It’s really hard but it’s really fun.”
What do you personally love about cheerleading?
“I like the fact that I’m a four-year cheerleader. That was a goal of mine when I was a freshman – part of being with my friends and doing what I love. I enjoy being a captain – it’s a great honor to lead all of these girls on Friday nights.”
How would somebody describe Marisa?
“Sweet, nice and outgoing. Always having a smile on her face. Helpful and always there if anybody ever needed anything.”
“Chocolate. My favorite is Twix – I eat chocolate all of the time. Everything is chocolate for me.”
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
“All of my lessons were right and all of my classes were great and everything was happy with my boyfriend and the team was put together well. Then I’d go home and study and see my family and rest for the next day. Just a relaxed day.”
If you could just up and leave right now – money and time and obligations are no object – for a vacation, where would you go and why?
“The Bahamas. I’ve always wanted to go there ever since I was a little girl. I remember watching this Mary Kate and Ashley Movie – Holiday in the Sun – and everything there looked so pretty. Just to go there and swim with the dolphins. I want to go to Atlantis. When I heard that our senior trip this year was to Hawaii I wanted to know why we couldn’t go to the Bahamas.”
What are your plans after you graduate?
“College. I’ve applied to San Jose State and Sacramento State and I’m hoping that I get into one of those schools. I’d like to be a Cardiologist or something in that field. Maybe a Registered Nurse or something like that. It’s something that I’ve always been interested in.”
Where do you get the abundance of school spirit that you share with the crowd and other people?
“I love Sierra – our team is so good this year and it makes you want to go out there and support them. Our Wolf Pack is out there and you can feel it. When I was in eighth grade my dad asked me where I wanted to go. He wanted me to go to Manteca High because at the time their football team was really good – he’s really into football – and so I went and participated in the ‘Mini Buffs.’ Then I came over to Sierra for the ‘Tiny T’wolves’ and I liked it here. That made up my mind.”
Is it stressful juggling so many things as a student?
“Yes. I have a schedule in my phone – it’s something that I’ve done since my freshman year – that I follow and helps me keep everything in check. And now that I’m captain it puts more on my plate. Still, I’m one of those people that enjoy being involved in a lot.”
Do you follow sports outside of high school?
“I love sports. I love the 49ers and the Giants and the Warriors and the San Jose Sharks. My dad tells me that I should have been a boy because I know so much about sports.”
What is the best thing about being captain?
“It’s about being a leader. Ever since I was a freshman I enjoyed being part of a team. At first I was quiet, but I eventually stepped it up and showed them that I could be a leader. I thought I wasn’t going to be anything in high school. When I first tried out as a freshman I didn’t think that I was going to make it. But now being a cheerleader is who I am, and I love it.”
Coke or Pepsi?
“Coke. I do not like Pepsi at all. But I’m not much of a soda person. I love sweet tea – it’s my favorite.”
What hobbies do you have outside of cheerleading?
“I like to sing – I wish I had the time to be a part of the choir here at Sierra but that just isn’t possible. I like to hang out with my friends and my family – they mean the world to me. And I like to hang out with my boyfriend (Sierra RB and linebacker Garrett DeVillanueva). I’ve always wanted our team to win, but with him playing it gives me somebody to watch and root for.”
Is there competition among cheerleaders from other teams during performances?
“You obviously want to do your best, and sometimes you have friends on other teams – I and other girls on the team have friends at Manteca High, but still we want to try and do better. There’s still that level of competition.”
“Pizza. Cheese pizza. And anything with ranch dressing on it. I put ranch dressing on everything. Chips. Pizza bagels. I go crazy when there isn’t any ranch or chocolate in the house.”
What is the camaraderie like among the team this year?
“For me, the girls are my other half. I have other friends that I hang out with that aren’t part of the team, but we’ve got a great squad – there’s no drama on the team this year. I like that we all know each other, and there are so many characteristics that bring us together. If one person is missing it’s not the same. It’s a really strong team.”