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MICRO MEMORIES: VOICE OF TEAM GUAM

Leading the crowd in cheers, claps, and occasional dancing, no win was quite the same without the voice of Team Guam Joneen Terlaje. The mysterious Guam caped crusader waved the island’s flag all around Pohnpei and wasn’t afraid to let them know Team Guam was out for gold.

By Robert Balajadia

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One of the hardest hitters on the women’s national volleyball team was kept out of action due to a nagging ankle injury, but her impact for Team Guam’s outing in the 2014 Micro Games was well heard just about every where she went.

Leading the crowd in cheers, claps, and occasional dancing, no win was quite the same without the voice of Team Guam’s Joneen Terlaje. The mysterious Guam caped crusader waved the island’s flag all around Pohnpei and wasn’t afraid to let them know Team Guam was out for gold.

“Holding the Guam flag and cheering for Guam teams at the Micro Games made me a proud Chamorro. It was truly one of the greatest moments,” said Terlaje of her overall cheering experience.

The cheering literally started right when the Team Guam charter flight landed on Pohnpei as Terlaje shouted from the back of the plane, “Guam for gold! Biba Guam!” A wave of responses answered Terlaje’s rally cry with “Biba Guam!” and the voice of Team Guam was born.

“It showed the love we have for our sport and most especially the love we have for our island,” Terlaje said upon hearing the overwhelming support from the team as the plane touched down. “When we walked onto a field, court, beach, or swim meet, It was exciting to see our Guam seal or the word Guam on our athletes.”

Joneen Terlaje sports the Guam flag at the men's basketball game as other members of Team Guam cheer on. (photo by Joey Blas)

Joneen Terlaje sports the Guam flag at the men’s basketball game as other members of Team Guam cheer on. (photo by Joey Blas)

Terlaje is instant energy, no need to add water. Though she would have loved to channel her cheers into minutes for her team, the injury simply wouldn’t allow. Being injured can take an emotional toll on most athletes though not quite many are built like Terlaje.

“Not being able to play during certain matches were really depressing but as I look to the court, I see my sisters fighting to represent our island. So I did too…  but this time, with my voice.”

Many fans from the other participating islands cheered for their teams though it’s safe to say everyone knew when Guam was in the house. Terlaje would let loose one of the many cheerleader style chants with the majority of Team Guam members responding back.

From “Lets gooo Guam, Guam lets gooo!” to “Give me a G…,” nothing was keeping Terlaje quiet.

“I believe that we impacted all the teams we cheered for greatly,” said Joneen on whether or not the cheering made a difference. “I love when the crowd is alive. Some of the athletes and I lost our voices cheering constantly, but every team we cheered on won so our sore throats were worth it.”

Joneen may have been kept out of volleyball competition but she was faced with some pretty stiff cheering competition at every venue. In all fairness, Terlaje would have the final words which garnered a special kind of win for Team Guam, especially when she and a fan from Chuuk battled in a dance off where Terlaje ignited the entire gym with the Guam flag on her back.

Terlaje would not be outdone by a fan from Chuuk, taking center stage in the dance battle. (photo by Joey Blas)

Terlaje would not be outdone by a fan from Chuuk, taking center stage in the dance battle. (photo by Joey Blas)

Guam had the smallest fans in attendance but you wouldn’t be able to tell if you were playing by ear.

“Our strong voices and catchy cheers made it seem like we had the most fans. Our Guam athletes came out and would look for other Guam athletes to be all together when cheering for our fellow Guam brothers and sisters.”

Terlaje’s cheering inspired other team members to carry on cheers either when the women’s volley team were playing or during her absence at an event.

The baseball team had their own hilarious chant that worked well against CNMI in the finals, the women’s basketball team caught the cheering bug attempting to carry out Terlaje and the teams cheers, and the paddling team did not have as organized a routine but their volume was higher than everyone else’s.

Guam’s 81 medal count was a testament to all the hard work Team Guam had put into preparing for the Games. Terlaje’s work in the crowd was not as thoroughly practiced as all of her excitement came purely from supporting her team. Terlaje has proven she’s got gold inside and out.

“Our heart for Guam will always remain. Guam is good, Guam is gold!”

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