There is a new cheer team in town. The East End Cubz Cheer & Drill team, started by Tyler resident Raynie Castaneda, began last month with hopes of competing in its first competition in January at the University of Texas at Tyler.
The team, which has 13 members ages 5 to 12, practices once a week and cheers each Monday for Rose Capital East Little League games held at Ambucs Field.
Castaneda said she felt compelled to start the team to help young girls with their self-esteem. The decision to make the team free came from her personal experience of knowing not everyone can afford to be part of an expensive cheer team.
“Cheer and drill is an excellent character-builder,” she said. “It builds skill, but it also builds confidence and self-worth. When I was little, I wanted to do cheer and dance so bad, but I could never do it consistently because we didn’t have a lot of money. This team is free, it is stress free for the parents, and it is 100% for the kids. ”
Castaneda said all children deserve a chance.
“So many kids are talented and wonderful and bright, and nobody would know because they come from low-income areas and hard-working families that don’t have the extra money for expensive activities like cheer and all the extra costs that come with it,” she said. “This team is important because they deserve to shine.”
Ravyn Roberts, whose two daughters — Remington and River — are on the team, said she was excited for her girls be a part of something like the team.
“I’ve known Raynie for a few years now, and I love everything that she stands for,” Roberts said. “I knew from the moment I saw she started this that it was going to be much more than just another cheer squad. We start off our practices with having our girls shout affirmations to themselves and talking about their week. Deciding to put the girls on the team and becoming a role in this was easy.”
Roberts also said she felt being a part of a team is important because she experienced being bullied as a child.
“As someone who grew up picked on a lot, it means a lot to me to be able to build up these girls’ confidence and hopefully be someone who they can look up to,” she said. “It gives girls who might not have had a chance otherwise to get out there and show their true selves.”
Castaneda said the group is working hard and doing everything they can to make it to their first competition in January.
The team has partnered with Don’s TV & Appliance and Culture ETX to raffle off a television and gift cards to raise money for competition fees and uniforms. Winners will be drawn Nov. 1.
All competitions are in Texas and are hosted by Texas Cheer Magazine. The first competition will be Jan. 16 at the University of Texas at Tyler.
For more information, visit their Facebook page or call 903-707-7978.