Ace of base: Jacelyn Tanuvasa powers to All-American honor

Junior Jacelyn Tanuvasa is a key part of the Sacred Hearts Academy squad that is going after a fourth-consecutive state championship in competitive cheer. Photo courtesy of JAMZ championships.

Four-time state champions are rare enough.

Jacelyn Tanuvasa is halfway there. The Sacred Hearts junior was on board and full throttle for the last two Medium Division competitive cheer state titles, and after earning her first UCA All-American selection last week, the junior is ready for the next hurdle.

“It made me happy. Even though we haven’t been able to practice as a team or attend any camps, it’s great to know that my hard work paid off,” Tanuvasa said.

Coach Cadey Vakauta considers Tanuvasa a gifted talent.

“Jace is a natural athlete and has been cheering for the program since the seventh grade with no prior experience. She is able to perform skills that athletes work their whole lives to get. She’s grown tremendously cheering on a varsity level, and I can see her applying what she learns in cheer to her life,” Vakauta said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Tanuvasa has a 3.7 grade-point average and dreams of attending USC.

“I want to go to USC because of their pharmaceutical program,” she said.

Three of her varsity teammates — Cayla Cabanban, Alissa De Smet and Andromeda Tong — were also named All-Americans. The process involved a specific routine that had to be video-taped and sent to UCA.

The cheer season was postponed from fall to early 2021 in Hawaii due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is definitely harder to push ourselves without our support,” she said. “But we have to stay focused and keep that drive for another state title. We just have to keep pushing and training. We’re hoping to practice together soon, and we’re improving our skills as much as we can on our own.”

The expectations for a three-time defending state-championship team doesn’t seem to faze any of the Lancers.

“Since we’re returning champs, the bar is set even higher because we have a legacy to uphold. Our team having three state titles is what pushes us to continually learn and perfect new skills,” Tanuvasa said. “It pushes us to continually learn and perfect new skills. We always know there is room for improvement, so we make sure not to get comfortable being at the top.”

Coach Vakauta has regular Zoom workouts for the team, including the intermediate squad.

“Our coach gives us tumbling skills we have to do by ourselves. We have to take video of it and send it to her,” Tanuvasa said.

“She may be small,” Vakauta added, “but she’s one of the strongest bases in the state. She’s based flyers heavier than her with no problem. She’s someone I know I can depend on while I’m making placements and choreographing the routine. I’m excited to see where cheer will take her in the future.”

Lockdown staples

Top 3 movies/shows

1. “All American.”

2. “Outer Banks.”

3. “The Office.”

Top 3 food/snack/drink

1. Midnight tea from Icy Bubble.

2. Domino’s pizza.

3. Cookies and cream ice cream.

Top 3 music artists

1. Jhené Aiko.

2. Russ.

3. Bryson Tiller.

New life skill

Tanuvasa: “I learned how to make whipped coffee!”

Shout outs

Tanuvasa: “We have to keep staying safe, wearing our masks and sanitizing, then this pandemic can be over soon and we can get back together. It’s teamwork.”


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