The cheerleading squad took second in the All-American Cheer and Dance National Competition, the first national competition they have ever attended. This was the team’s second ever competition, and the first national one for them. The team finished behind the University of Missouri-St. Louis, a Division One school, in a crowded competitive field.

Captain Cindy Chan, a senior, was pleased with the results. This was “definitely a really good start to getting our name out there,” Chan said. “We came out well.”

During their two and a half minute routine the team was judged in categories like togetherness, spirit, difficulty of the stunts, tumbling, smiling and dance.

The co-ed team is a club team made up of 13 members of varying ability. There is no varsity level cheering at UR.

“Actually, I was pretty surprised that we did win considering that we aren’t a varsity sport and we don’t get much funding from the school,” Chan said. ” We don’t have the typical requirements of other squads, and we’re a club sport.”

Another important aspect of the team is its youth. Five of the 13 members are in their first year. Chan said that it was “very stressful” to work with a team that is relatively inexperienced.

While it was still one of the smallest groups at the competition, UR’s squad size has increased dramatically ? there were only five members on last year’s team.

“We’ll definitely get better next year and in the years come,” Chan said.

Chan thought that little was known about the cheerleading team on campus. “A lot of the people on campus don’t know we exist,” Chan said.

The team has been working hard to build themselves up, and Chan views their recent success at nationals as a good way to impress people and familiarize them with the team.

The squad has made a lot of major changes in the last few months. The team hired Shawn Craig as their new coach this past February, and changed their routine a month after that. Chan stated that the pace was very hectic, and there was a major adjustment period to both the new coach and the new routine.

The change in routine left the squad only a month to prepare for the national competition, while many of the teams they competed against practice the same routine for a year or more.

To add to their difficulties, the usual eight and a half hours it takes to drive to the Indianiapolis, IN location of the competition was extended to 14 hours because of bad weather.

Still, nothing could put a damper on the team’s feelings of sucess. “This is definitely a dream come true,” Chan said. “With dedication and heart, we went in there and we won.”

Tryouts for next year’s team will be in late September, and everyone is welcome, but experienced cheerleaders are encouraged.

DeSantis can be reached at kdesantis@campustimes.org.



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