She wipes out the field

Forget the cheers emanating from local living rooms as the Pittsburgh Steelers pulled off yet another win on Super Bowl Sunday, some local fans were more excited to cheer as La Cañada High School graduate and Glendale College cheerleader Monica Kaufmann claimed victory at television’s Wipeout Bowl challenge of the Cheerleaders vs. the Couch Potatoes. The show aired on ABC at the same time as the final hour of the Super Bowl on a competing national channel.

The five-foot-three-inch Kaufmann, 20, managed to jump, climb over, slide down, and dodge a variety of challenges to defeat 23 competitors in a spectacular display of athleticism that won her the grand prize of $50,000.

“I was just so amazed to see how she methodically thought out those stupid stunts,” her mom, MaryAnn Kaufmann said, adding that the family is proud of Monica’s skill and determination.

“As a mother, obviously, I know how well she could do, but she really didn’t expect to win,” the mom said.

The daughter of MaryAnn and David Kaufmann, Monica has two brothers, Scott, 31, and Matthew, 22, both La Cañada High School graduates, and a sister, Melissa, 18, a senior at La Cañada High. She’s also the niece of proud uncle, John Yeghiaian and granddaughter of Queenie Yeghiaian, operators of Berge’s sandwich shop on Foothill Boulevard.

Kaufmann began as a cheerleader at 8, learning under her mom’s tutelage as a member of the La Cañada Gladiators cheerleading squad. She later cheered for La Cañada High School and currently at the college.

Last summer, Kaufmann and all of the cheerleaders at Glendale Community College were told by their coach to try out for the Wipeout special. After an audition and interview, Kaufmann thought she didn’t make the show because she didn’t hear from producers for about three months. However, in October, she learned she was selected for the show. It was filmed in November.

Although she won, Kaufmann was under contract and not allowed to speak of her victory, except to family, until after the show aired. That part was nearly as difficult as the competition, she said.

Her secret to winning was retaining her focus, she said, adding that she wasn’t shown as much as competitors in the spoken portion of the show.

“Everyone else was talking, but I was so focused, I forgot to talk,” she said.

Kaufmann will receive her winnings 90 days after the show aired, she said, adding that although her first inclination was to purchase “one of the new Jettas, I really love that car,” she has agreed with her parents’ decision to save the funds for her college expenses.

She plans to eventually transfer to a four-year university and wants to become a lawyer someday.

“But, before that, I want to take some time off to try out for the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders,” she said.

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