By Karen Billing
Torrey Pines Pop Warner Junior Midget Falcon cheerleader Mari Hoffman spent last Sunday rooting for the San Diego Chargers on the field at Qualcomm Stadium as one the Charger Girls Cheerleaders of the Day.
"It was a really fun experience, I got to meet all the Charger cheerleaders and I was able to go to the styling room to do my makeup," said Mari, a sixth grader at Sage Canyon School.
Mari's mother Cindy won the opportunity for her daughter in a Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center benefit auction. She bid on the item knowing how much her daughter has loved being a Falcon cheerleader for the last four years, choosing cheer over soccer.
Mari, 11, has always been a flyer on her squads, the girl who is held up in the air. Mari doesn't get nervous at all being at the top of a pyramid and falling back into her teammates' arms or doing one-legged extensions in the air.
"Ever since I was small I've done little stunts," said Mari. "I got used to it and [began] doing bigger, more advanced stunts."
Very athletic, Mari also takes gymnastics at TRC in Solana Beach and uses her tumbling skills at Pop Warner games and in cheer competitions-she can do four or more back handsprings in a row.
On Sunday, Mari wore her cardinal and gold Falcon uniform on the sidelines, which Mari admitted made her look like she was cheering for the Cardinals. She even got some high-fives from Cardinal players as they came onto the field.
Mari watched the cheerleaders perform their dance routines and cheer for the Chargers on route to their 41-10 blowout victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Mari was very impressed with the Charger Girls' performances.
"They work really hard and practice a lot because they were all in sync," Mari said.
On the sidelines, Mari got to watch the game up close and snap photos of her favorite Charger player, Darren Sproles.
"You see the players all lined up and then Sproles, he's tiny!" Mari said of the 5'6'' running back and kick returner.
Besides being out on the field, Mari's other favorite part of the day was enjoying the cheerleader perk of a full spread of food before and after the game: Chicken, salad, pasta and cookies.