Cheerleading squads compete at Nationals
A cheerleading routine lasts for two minutes and thirty seconds. At the end of my college cheerleading career, the most important moments will add up to about ten minutes.
Slippery Rock competes at the Universal Cheerleaders Association National Collegiate Cheerleading Championship held at the Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida and has a long-standing tradition there.
We returned to campus on Dec. 27 to start putting together the routines for Nationals. There are three two-hour practices every day leading up to our flight, a time we call ‘hell month’.
This year we got a surprise during hell month, our former all-girl cheerleading coach, Kinsey Basko, was coming back to help our current coaches, Gemma Fotia and Candace Gartley. We were all thrilled to have Kinsey back. He’s the type of coach that makes you want to be better than you are and will help you get there if you’re willing to put in the work.
As the days went on, both teams went through their struggles. Stunts fell, tumbling crashed, pyramids crumbled, and tensions rose. We got through it like any other sport would, with layers of Icy Hot, heating pads, ice, and chiropractor appointments.
Slowly but surely, both routines came together and it was time to fly to Disney.
When we stepped off the plane, it all started to sink in. This is it, this is what we’ve been killing our bodies for, and we’ve got to leave our hearts out on the mat.
Saturday Jan. 19 was the big day. After I was dressed and ready to go, I threw on my standard competition day playlist of Nicki Minaj and Bon Jovi and went into focus mode.
I competed with the all-girl team this year instead of the co-ed team like I have in the past. It was a change that I definitely struggled with at first, but it has helped me become a better cheerleader.
Our prelim performance was far from our best, but we were still awarded a spot in the finals. Because we were moved to Division I, we would have to have a solid finals performance if we wanted to place well.
Standing backstage for the final time this season was unreal. The adrenaline kicks in and it finally hits you that this is it. The music ends from the team ahead of us and it’s show time.
We run out onto the floor and I get set in my spot and take a look at the crowd. The routine feels like it happens in the blink of an eye. Overall, we had a good performance, but we had mistakes that we knew would cost us. The blame could not be placed on any one person; you walk on and off that floor as a team.
When our small co-ed team performed, I made sure to get the perfect spot. I had tumbling passes and stunts that I needed to be on a certain side to cheer for. After their performance, I was so proud of them.
The award ceremonies rolled around and we were all anxious to hear the results. Both teams were awarded third place titles in their division.
In Division I All Girl, West Georgia University took first, followed by Morehead State University. In Division II Small Co-ed, Wilmington University won and Columbus State University got second.
At the end of the day, cheerleading means so much more to me than where we place at the competition. It’s given me valuable life lessons, as well as a second family. As much as I’ve complained about it when I’m sore or frustrated, it’s what I love to do and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I’ve got one chance left, two minutes and thirty seconds left, to go after a National championship and I’m going to give it everything I have left.