Cassie Gamieo: Encouragement, Effort, and Collaboration


Shelby Seu

Team player just doesn’t make the cut when describing Mililani High School’s very own Cassie Gamieo, a senior varsity cheerleader diagnosed with down syndrome. Since she has joined the team, Gamieo has been admired by friends, teammates, and her coach for the positive aura she brings. She inspires those around her to do their best, whether it be during performances, competition, or just in daily practices.
“From the beginning, when I first met Cassie I knew that she was going to be a great cheerleader. When I first met her, we immediately started talking. And then when we were practicing,” said senior varsity cheerleader Korie Takamoto. “I could see how hard she was working and I could see that she was very motivated. She inspired me to work harder to match her energy and it was really fun.”
Gamieo was always interested in sports and stated that before cheerleading, she envisioned herself being involved with groups like football. When picturing her high school career, she always knew cheerleading was going to be a big part of it. In fact, according to Gamieo, she found her passion for cheerleading when watching them at football games.
Like most clubs and after school activities, cheerleading presented some obstacles for Gamieo. One thing she found challenging was learning certain choreography for her performances. However, according to Gamieo, she didn’t have any negative feelings towards her struggles, and instead carried on with optimism and perseverance.
“The moment that we learned all the cheers in preparation for the cheer season and our cheerleading camp, she was able to really quickly catch on to everything that everybody else did,” said cheer coach Amber Sistoza-Awong. “And if she had trouble, she wouldn’t hold back, she would always ask, but seeing her at the games, so happy, and that’s that was her dream and her goal. Seeing her happy and doing everything like everybody else is probably her best moment.”
The Trojan Varsity Cheerleading team is described by its members as a family, as it takes the encouragement, effort, and collaboration of everyone for the group to perform well together. Takamoto, Awong, and senior Varsity cheerleader Martha Whitaker all agree that it’s the social aspect of cheerleading that allows for the feeling of connection to thrive.
“I would say the bonds are really strong because you’re with them for about three hours a day, every single day and you have to really trust them. Like for stunts, you have to really trust them to actually catch you or to work together,” said Whitaker.
From making sure to high-five every teammate before practice to providing an atmosphere of encouragement and cheerfulness, Gamieo’s friendliness has always been appreciated by the team. Teammates like Whitaker love to socialize with her and listen to the stories she has to tell. According to her, just being with Gamieo makes many smile.
“So, being a part of the cheerleading program at Mililani High School, we always start athletes to be great role models, and provide school spirit. Casey goes beyond that limit for school spirit, especially because she is proud of being a part of this program being who she is,” said Awong. “And she does not care what anybody else has to say about the program about her or who she is. She takes it with pride. And she shows everybody that with a positive attitude, you can get through anything.”
It was clear to Awong that Gamieo was not just a cheerleader, but an inspiration and a motivator. To Whitaker and Takamoto, she is a friend, a sister, and an important member of the Trojan Varsity cheerleading family.
“I wanted to showcase Cassie’s story in the newspaper because from day one, she has shown that no matter what challenges come in life, she is able to show us that with some time you can get it done if you work hard,” said Awong. “And I’m hoping that all the readers would be able to listen to her story and use that as motivation that no matter what challenges life gives us as long as you put the time into it you can get through.”
Gamieo, Whitaker, and Takamoto hope everyone can learn from Gamieo’s example that anyone can reach the stars no matter the obstacles. Gamieo hopes that readers will work just as hard as she did when achieving their dreams.
Even when wearing a mask, Cassie Gamieo, a senior varsity cheerleader, continues to smile and burst with energy during her practice. Her fellow teammates and coach have said that her liveliness in drills is always matched when she is cheering on the field. “And I loved how happy and ready she was for…to do anything. And she always like put her 100% and it just pushed me to do…to push myself to go,” said senior varsity cheerleader Martha Whitaker.