It’s almost a match. If you look quickly at Jordan Bader’s Arizona Western College T-shirt, you can easily mistake it for Nogales High Apache maroon and gold. That color comparison came last week when the Lady Apaches’ stunt and cheer program held tryouts to replace graduating seniors on next year’s varsity squad, two of whom have been selected for college-level cheer squads.
Jordan Bader will wear the familiar Cardinal (dark, almost maroon) Red and Gold of the Arizona Western College Matadors. Isabella Maytorena will wear the Wildcats’ brighter Cardinal Red and Navy Blue while cheering for University of Arizona teams.
Both tried out recently, made the college squads and were back at NHS to assist stunt and cheer coach Carolyn Hernandez select members of the Lady Apaches squad during tryouts here.
The college tryouts were especially challenging for Maytorena, who suffered a sprained left ankle on May 1, just prior to tryouts at U of A.
“Tryouts were Friday and I just went into this nervous breakdown,” she said. “ I was so scared.”
Maytorena had her ankle checked by a chiropractor, she said, to make sure it was only a sprain, and went to Wildcats tryouts.
“Friday came along and I was OK. I had been icing my ankle and stuff,” Maytorena said. “I was doing stunting first and, then we moved on to the tumbling portion of it and it was not easy. There was a lot of pain but I knew if I did not do what I was asked to do Friday in tumbling, I would be cut.”
Maytorena did what she had to do and was OK Friday, she said. “Saturday was a tough day … and I ended up doing one of my flips on one foot. It was cool. They knew I was doing it with a sprain and were cool about it. I just thought I worked so hard for so long for an injury to mess me up now. They called me the Karate Kid at the end of tryouts for doing so much on one foot.”
Maytorena began cheering when she could walk, she said. “I was always in gymnastics and started cheerleading my sixth grade year at Desert Shadows. Since I was a little girl, I always wanted to go to the U of A. I was always a Wildcat fan. My dad used to have me answering the phone when I was three ‘Wildcat Headquarters.’”
She worked on tumbling on her own and was the only freshman on Nogales’ varsity stunt and cheer team her freshman year, Maytorena said. “I have been on two of the state champion teams and two overall teams. It was a lot to take in my freshman year. I didn’t really know what was going on and, as the year went on, I understood it more and felt the pressure more. I loved it. I loved the performing and being out there in front of everyone at games and cheering for the teams.”
As she grew up, Maytorena said she would go to U of A football and basketball games and watch the cheerleaders.
“It was always my dream to become a cheerleader when I got to college,” she said.
Those dreams came true when Maytorena garnered an academic scholarship to U of A. With a 4.375 GPA, she will be studying for a business degree, something in networking and marketing, Maytorena said. She was accepted at other colleges, in California, but the cheerleading spot sealed the U of A decision.
Maytorena shares a family interest in athletics, she said. Her brother, Ricky Maytorena Jr., is in Little League and on a traveling baseball team. Ricky is 12 and currently a sixth grader. Her mother, Monica, is a stay-at-home mom and her dad, Ricky Sr., is in produce and is president of Nogales National Little league.
“I have a lot of support from my family, not just my close family but my uncles, my aunts, my coaches, my friends, my teachers,” she said. “It was just amazing to see all the support I got during the week of tryouts.”
Arizona Western Community College also held tryouts during open gym two weeks ago. Bader went up and made the team, with a bonus.
“I didn’t want community college,” she said. “I wanted to go right into my four years, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in so my mom encouraged me to go to the community college. She found out Western had a cheer team and they were pretty good.”
Her scholarship isn’t a full ride, but comes through the cheer coach and is just under $1,000, Bader said.
Bader is an only child, and lives with her mother, Amy Bader, a teacher at Challenger Elementary.
Bader began cheerleading in third grade with Desert Sky Gymnastics in Nogales and has been with the Lady Apaches for four years, two on junior varsity and two on Varsity.
“I had a lot of fun this year on the team,” she said. “I made a lot of friends this year and we really worked well together. I’m sad to have to leave them.”
Bader has great leadership skills, Hernandez said. “She is very talented as far as tumbling and stunting. She does a really wonderful job. We are really excited to see her move on.”
Hernandez said community college is a good way to start. “She will learn their process and how they do things and can go on from there.”
Maytorena has also done a wonderful job in four years of varsity, Hernandez said. “She is a good little leader (captain in her senior year). The thing with her, when she decided to make the commitment to U of A, she took some private tumbling and partner-stunt lessons at a private gym in Tucson. A former boy from here — he was never a cheerleader here but did cheer at U of A, Ramon Murillo — taught her how to partner stunt. She worked really hard … for two years.
“They are both great,” Hernandez added. “I just think that to be in front of their crowds and to be on the fields is just an amazing thing. For a small little community that we are, I think it is awesome. We do a really good job with kids moving on.”