Welcoming New Cheer Coach Allison Leyva to the Bulldog Family


Emma Haag

After a long day in the classroom, coach Allison Leyva readily heads to three hours of pep squad practice.

Emma Haag, Staff Writer

The start of the new school year brings many exciting changes, including a new cheer coach, Allison Leyva, who cheered all four years as a member of the Laguna Hills High pep squad. After graduation, she started working immediately at Laguna Hills High as the JV cheer coach where she coached for over six years, prior to coming to Portola.

“It was time for me to become a head coach of a program, and this opportunity came up last year, and I took it,” Leyva said. “I love it here! It was the best opportunity, and I am so happy I was able to take this [position].”

Leyva began competitively cheering on an All-Star cheer team when she was six. When she graduated from high school, Leyva decided to go back to All Star and cheered at the California All Stars Level 6 team in Oxnard, California. She was on the California All Stars Level 6 team for two years, where her team placed third and second at the Cheerleading World Championships consecutively. 

Later, Leyva decided it was time to stop cheering competitively because it was too big a time commitment, and she needed to finish her undergraduate degree. For Leyva’s last year of college, she cheered for University of California, Irvine’s Spirit Squad. Currently, Leyva is working on getting her master’s and her teaching credential.

Becoming the head coach at a relatively new school, there have been numerous moments in coaching that have stood out. She says something that has stood out to her so far is the remarkable improvement in her squad since she has arrived.

“The cheer team was really different from when I first arrived to what it is now, and I think that all of the girls can attest to that,” Leyva states.

Cheerleading is one of the most misunderstood sports. While some call it a form of art branching from dance, others consider it a competitive sport. Cheerleading takes more time and effort than everyone thinks. It is much more than standing on the sidelines and increasing school spirit.

“I think our competition team is more of a competitive thing. It’s just like every other sport, like a game. We get our scores back and see how well we do,” Leyva said.

Becoming the leader for a sport at a new school can be simple but challenging. Leyva says the easiest part of being a coach, for her, is the bond that the team creates from the time of tryouts to football season. The more challenging parts of coaching would be learning new moves and going through a trial-and-error process to perfect all of the dances and tricks. 

“No one really understands the depth of how hard these stunts are until they actually try it,” Leyva said.  

A piece of advice she continuously gives to her girls to increase motivation and drive is that ‘Hard work always pays off!’