HIGH LIFE : Not Bowled Over by Success : Top Cheerleader Doesn't Jump at Hawaiian Scholarship

Chi Mai, a freshman at Southern California Christian High School, is editor of the school newspaper, the SCC Flame, and he enjoys computers and basketball

Wendy Ondrak, in Hawaii during winter vacation to cheer at the Aloha Bowl, was offered a four-year scholarship to the University of Hawaii by the school's cheerleading coach.

She turned it down.

She was then offered an all-expenses-paid stay on the island for the two weeks following the Aloha Bowl to cheer in the Hula Bowl.

She turned that down too.

"Being Christmastime, it was hard to be away from my family and friends," said Ondrak, a senior at Southern California Christian High School in Orange. "It was the first Christmas I've ever spent away from home. We celebrated it before I left, but it just wasn't the same being gone on Christmas Day.

"Although it was hard, I'm glad I had the chance to experience something so exciting. I know I will probably never get the chance to do this again."

But to turn down a four-year scholarship, and to the University of Hawaii no less?

"Being offered a scholarship to a university is a very big thing," Ondrak acknowledged, "but I would rather go to a college closer to home to be with my family and boyfriend."

Her boyfriend, Brad Martin, 18, lives in Walnut with his aunt and uncle, who introduced the two teen-agers to each other during a Bible study group at Zion Church in Tustin. Martin's aunt, Cheryl Gype, was the cheerleading coach at Southern California Christian.

"I was very glad for her, and I wanted her to go and have fun," Martin said of his girlfriend's tropical trip. "It didn't matter if she stayed two more weeks for the Hula Bowl."

Last August, Ondrak and her school's cheerleading squad took part in a camp at UCLA sponsored by the National Cheerleading Assn.

As the camp drew to a close, Ondrak was selected over more than 400 participants as the top cheerleader, despite barely having a voice in the finals.

"It was awful," she said of her voice ailment, which came as a result of four days of cheering. "I was scared that I wouldn't be able to perform. I ate a lot of lemons, trying to regain my voice."

For finishing first, Ondrak was awarded All-American status and received her 10-day trip to Hawaii.

Her first few days in Honolulu were spent in grueling, 8-hour practice sessions with more than 75 cheerleaders, all sponsored by NCA.

The rest of the sessions lasted only five hours a day, giving the girls time to make new friends, shop and lie on the beach.

At the game, Ondrak had to force herself to cheer for the opposition.

"They divided us into two squads each quarter, and I got stuck cheering for Florida," she said, "but I didn't want to because I'm from California and I wanted to cheer for UCLA. The most funny thing was trying to get on television, running around with the UCLA Bruin mascot.

"What I enjoyed most was meeting a lot of girls from different states who were all interested and as enthusiastic about cheerleading as I am."

Ondrak became interested in cheerleading as a freshman, staying after school one day to watch the cheerleaders practice. Gype urged her to try out. Ondrak made the squad her sophomore year, but Gype had resigned her position. Jamie Fox took over in the middle of Ondrak's junior year.

"I never would have been able to succeed in cheerleading as much as I have if it weren't for my coach, Jamie Fox," Ondrak said. "She taught me how to be a better cheerleader and to learn correct techniques of how to work together (with a squad)."

Fox had been a head instructor at NCA summer camps for nine years.

"Wendy shows responsibility and dedication, and she has the talent that it takes to be a cheerleader," Fox said.

Ondrak looks to become even more involved in cheerleading. She has applied to the NCA to become a summer camp instructor.

"If I had the chance to become a professional cheerleader, I would, definitely," said Ondrak, who plans to attend a junior college, transfer to UCLA and study obstetrics.

"I know what I experienced was something that not everyone gets to," she said of her trip. "I want to thank God for giving me a chance to do this once-in-a-lifetime thing."

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