CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Radford cheerleader Marrissa Kaili-Frank celebrated the Rams' third straight medium division victory last week at the state tourney.
Cheer to career for this Ram
Cheerleading is Kaili-Frank's path to college and beyond
OR Marrissa Kaili-Frank, cheerleading is a path to a college degree.
The Radford junior has been a cheerleader since the age of 11 and now sees the skill as an avenue to possible scholarship and then a career.
According to Rams coach Bo Frank, Kaili-Frank is an excellent student and is currently maintaining a 4.0 grade-point average.
"Cheerleading is going to get me somewhere," said Kaili-Frank, who is Coach Frank's second cousin. "My goal is to go off to college in Oregon and become a pharmacist."
Kaili-Frank started her career as a cheerleader when one of her two younger brothers joined a Pop Warner football team. From there, she began to enjoy the sport and continued on into high school at Castle for her freshmen and sophomore years and now at Radford, where she plans to graduate.
"If it wasn't for my brother to sign up for Pop Warner, I wouldn't be cheering," she said. "So it is a good thing that my brother wanted to go out and play football."
According Frank, cheerleading is a challenging sport because each athlete must dedicate a great deal of time to it. The season begins at the end of the school year and lasts through the summer before ending in December.
There's cheering at sporting events as well as preseason tournaments, division tournaments, league tournaments and the state championships.
"We are pretty strict about having to be on time and at all events," Frank said. "I always tell the parents at the first meeting, cheerleading is not a sport, it is a lifestyle. If you cannot commit to the lifestyle, you have to leave now."
Kaili-Frank has fit in well throughout the season and is doing well with her responsibilities to her teammates and school, according to Frank.
He feels that although Kaili-Frank is not a team captain and new to the team, she is still a leader and has earned the respect of her teammates.
"She is always encouraging us and finding ways to help the team," said teammate Tiana Paling, who is one of three sophomores on the 10-person squad. "She is a really good friend. You can talk to her about anything and she will understand."
Kaili-Frank's determination to excel at school and cheerleading is also evident in her activities off the Radford High School campus.
Outside of school, she is a member of a team named Cheer-It-Away, which holds tryouts for cheerleaders from schools across Oahu.
Last year the team went to Dallas and placed 10th out of 16.
Kaili-Frank said the trip to Dallas was a good learning experience for them and now they are growing as a team.
During March of next year, Cheer-It-Away will perform at another tournament hoping to build on what they did at Dallas. However, by going to this tournament, Kaili-Frank had to make a tough choice over her other extracurricular activity, hula halau.
Among her passions in life, hula is one that Kaili-Frank has worked hard at and improved. She began dancing at the age of 9 for Hula Halau O Kamuela, and this past March performed at the Merrie Monarch Festival on the Big Island.
"In seven years I went from not knowing how to dance hula to making it on the Merrie Monarch line, which is a big step," she said.
Her trip to the Big Island turned out to be a successful journey when her halau won the three female categories.
The success at the Merrie Monarch Festival seemed to have followed Kaili-Frank back to Radford. The Rams repeated as Oahu Interscholastic Association champions last month, and last week, they captured the state tournament medium division championship for the third straight year.