O’Dowd ‘Dragons’ Cheerleaders Win National Championship

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Bishop O'Dowd Varsity Cheer Team, the "Dragons," celebrate in their national championship jackets and medals, along with their coaches. Shown (L to R) kneeling are Joy Knox, Aliyah Knight, Samantha Verdin-Paez, Robin Parks, Michaela Wright, Claire Cooke; standing are Coach Jasmine Lopez, Morgan Vincent, Coach Shanice Kelley, Sarah Mockel, Clarissa Padilla, Dezia Washington, Amanda Dawn King, Destiny Davis, and Moderator Marguerite Green.

Bishop O’Dowd High School’s varsity cheer team won the 2019 national championship in the Sideline Cheer, and 3rd place in the Show Cheer at the JAMZ competition in Las Vegas on Feb. 22-23.

The O’Dowd team competed against seven other teams in each category.

“I wanted to share with you the fantastic story of a little team – three veterans and nine novices – that trained for six months, gave up Saturdays for stunt clinics, cheered through two different sports seasons and earned a trip to Vegas,” said Assistant Director of Student Activities Marguerite Green, who leads the cheerleading sports activity.

She is assisted by two coaches, both O’Dowd grads – Head Coach Jasmine Lopez, Class of 2008, and Assistant Coach Shanice Kelley, Class of 2003.

Known as Mama Green to her cheerleaders, she describes the significance of this first-ever accomplishment.

“I took over the program seven years ago to show young women of all sizes, all colors and all athletic abilities that they could be elite athletes. Seven years later when I heard ‘and now the national champions are Bishop O’Dowd Cheer,’ I knew God had been with us all the way.”

Green described the trials and tribulations of running a cheer program where students are sometimes told by adults and their peers that they are not athletes and what they do is not a sport.

“The victory has proven to them that through prayer, hard work and love of your sport, all can be accomplished,” she said.

Former City Councilwoman Desley Brooks wrote about the victory on social media.

“Their journey was truly remarkable as the team majority was comprised of members new to varsity cheer,” she said. “Hundreds of seasoned, veteran teams compete annually without ever achieving what these young ladies did. Oakland now has three champion girls’ teams, including Oakland High and Oakland Tech basketball teams.”

Added Green, “We had to wait until 7 p.m. on the second day for the award ceremony to begin, and I can’t tell you if I’ve ever prayed so hard.

“They announced, ‘the national champions for 2019 are the Bishop O’Dowd Dragons,’ and we all ran to the stage. It is important to note we competed against teams who do not cheer at sporting or community events as we do, but only do competitive cheer.

“They have persevered as a team and made history for Bishop O’Dowd and the City of Oakland!”

Bishop O’Dowd High School is located at 9500 Stearns Ave. in Oakland.

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