SHA’s galaxy of All-Americans includes sophomore Andromeda Tong

Sophomore Andromeda Tong experienced her first state championship last season with Sacred Hearts Academy's competitive cheer squad. Photo courtesy of Takoeye.

Sophomore All-American has quite the ring to it.

Andromeda Tong wasn’t expecting to hear that truth, but the UCA named her one of four selections to its All-America team last week.

“I feel very lucky and blessed to be given the opportunity. I was honestly surprised when I saw the email that I made All-American. I didn’t expect to make it,” Tong said.

Her three varsity teammates also on the All-American team: Cayla Cabanban, Alissa De Smet and Jacelyn Tanvasa.

The process involved studying the requirements and executing a routine, then sending the footage to UCA.

“For me, it was more the dance compared to my tumbling. I have my tumbling down, but I had to focus on the dance,” said Tong, who has a 3.9 grade-point average.

Coach Cadey Vakauta enjoys seeing Tong’s energy level elevate her teammates.

“Andromeda is full of light and positivity no matter what situation she’s in. She’s a key player to our team. She is constantly cheering people on at practice and motivating everyone to do their best,” Vakauta said. “It makes me happy as a coach to see how much the girls truly love and care for each other. We are all family.”

Vakauta sees next-level skills in Tong.

“Andromeda knows how to work the crowd and is a confident performer. She’s only a sophomore, and she’s basing collegiate level skills. I am very proud of her,” she said.

Juggling online classes with virtual workouts and personal training can be tricky, but Tong has mastered the rigors.

“Time management is going to be very important. Cheer has taught me a lot about when to study, when to go to practice, when to be professional and when to relax. It’s all very important,” she said. “Monday through Friday, we either do a Zoom practice or coach gives us a list of tumbling and conditioning to do. Because we don’t a place to weight train available during this pandemic we do more cardio and do more exercises utilizing our body weight.”

If and when the competitive cheer season returns, Tong expects a major challenge as Sacred Hearts begins its campaign for a fourth state championship (Medium Division) in a row.

“I believe that having the three titles gives us more expectation. There is more expected because in the cheer world it’s all about leveling up from your last routine. People are always trying new stunts and getting new skills so we have to have stay on top of our game and hopefully be one of the schools that perform new skills that some people don’t know,” she said. “It’s like saying, ‘Yeah they did that last year, what will they do this year?’ ”

“Coming from a smaller all-girl private school it’s hard for us to recruit cheerleaders so we have to put in the extra work to be at the same if not at a higher level then our competition. Some of the cheerleaders that get recruited to public schools have cheered their whole lives so that gives them an advantage. This will be my fourth year cheering and I believe I have placed lots of sacrifice and hard work into getting where am I as well as making the varsity team last year.”

Lockdown staples
Top 3 movies/shows
1. “Clueless.”
2. “Mulan.”
3. “It 2.”

Top 3 food/snacks/drinks
1. Strawberry Ramune ice cream, Thrills Soft Serve.
2. Chocolate covered strawberries, Dipped by Dee.
3. Açaí bowl

Top 3 music artists
1. Ariana Grande. “NASA.”
2. Adele.
3. Hillsong United.

New life skills:
Learning how to drive. I just got my permit summer.

Shout outs
Tong: “To Coach Cadey and our whole cheer program, all our cheer families. The support we have is incredible. Our coaches are super understanding and I’m so thankful for how they’ve helped me grow as an athlete and a student, being responsible for our future. My parents for understanding that our sport can be difficult, supporting me by taking me to practice, to our games or just being with us after a hard day.”


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