DCW50 MVP: Wheaton senior jumps at chance to cheer

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WHEATON, Md. -- Chayla Santiago waited three years to get a chance to do something that most people can't wait to jump into once they start high school.

Santiago is a rookie on the Wheaton High School Cheer team even though she'll be graduating from high school in just a few months.

"I play varsity soccer as well and I play (soccer) on a club team so during the fall season I play on two teams so usually by the end of the season I'm burnt out," said Santiago.

All that soccer also comes after several hours of class and homework each night as Santiago went through the Engineering Magnet Program at Wheaton. Santiago is preparing to become the second generation in her family to attend college. She's known she wants to be an engineer since attending science camps in middle school.

Even as a senior she's taking Advanced Placement classes like calculus and engineering but her schedule has freed up enough to cheer this year.

"It definitely did feel weird because there are a lot of rookies," said Santiago. "Not only did they do it since freshman year but they're on club teams that do cheer and then there are the underclassmen that already know the basics so you feel like a freshman going into it."

Santiago had to spend some time learning the cheers and the moves for each football and basketball game the team performs for.

"I kind of learned how to apply everything I've been through in the day and all the stress and working really hard just to get it because I'm a new cheerleader," said Santiago.

She was singled out for that effort and her effort in the classroom with her coaches nominating her for this week's DCW50 MVP. Santiago said she feels any kind of honor she earns should reflect how hard her team works and how close the group is.

"I think being an MVP is being able to relate to everyone on your team," said Santiago.

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