March 31, 2010
Cullowhee, N.C. - Lacey Canada is a senior Communications major from Chapin, S.C., and is a member of the Western Carolina cheerleading squad. WCU's Cheerleaders will compete in the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA)/National Dance Association (NDA) Collegiate Cheer & Dance Championships in Daytona Beach, Fla., April 8-11 ... Lacey will provide a series of blogs that will provide insight as the squad prepares for and travels to the national competition through CatamountSports.com.
For her second installment, Canada interviewed head coach Kim Cherry-Beck, who is a former Western Carolina cheerleader and attended the same national competition that her squad will compete in the second week of April.
The WCU Cheerleaders will be performing their Nationals routine on-campus for their numerous supporters and student body at 7:00 pm. The performance is open to the public and everyone is welcome to attend. Spectators should enter through the back doors of Reid Gym, across from the Courtyard Dining Hall (next to the blue gymnastics mat), which will be the only doors open prior to the event.
Canada: "What do you hope your team gets from this experience at the NCA National Competition?"
Cherry-Beck: "NCA College Nationals in Daytona Beach is the ultimate college cheerleading experience. You are surrounded by the most talented programs in the country; the energy is unbelievable! I'm so anxious to get down there and let my team experience this...especially those that have given three and four years to this program, patiently waiting and hoping to get this opportunity. We haven't competed in three years, so it's really BIG for our program to go back. My hope is that we come together more than ever, peak at the right time, do OUR very best, and have everyone leave knowing they gave every single thing they had. I want our seniors to leave feeling a sense of pride and accomplishment knowing they helped to lead our program back to nationals. For those planning to return next year, I hope they leave feeling re-energized and come back ready to work and continue the tradition of WCU Cheer."
Canada: "All of your team members have competed at some level of cheerleading, whether in high school or all stars. However, nationals are a completely different atmosphere. Does it make you nervous to put a team that has never experienced this before on the mat? Not to mention you have eight freshmen, that's a lot of young talent under pressure."
Cherry-Beck: "I'm more excited than anything else! This team has worked so hard and is capable of hitting our routine in Daytona. There will always be some kind of nerves attached to competition, especially our sport. We don't get another `at-bat' or a second chance at the free throw line if we miss. You work so hard to prepare and then it's all out for two minutes and 15 seconds - no second chances! I think having some competition experience will certainly help, but NCA College Nationals is totally different. This is the largest WCU team to ever compete and having so many freshmen on the mat makes me excited for the future of our program."
Canada: "How have you changed practices to better prepare your team for nationals?"
Cherry-Beck: "In the beginning, our national's practices were mostly about experimenting with new things; seeing what or who could work where, pushing people, doing two minute and 15 second conditioning drills, etc. Once the "pieces" began to hit and decisions were made, we started to put the pieces together, and eventually put it all to music.
Our practices are hard and long and Coach (Bryan) Tatum's conditioning pushes you but there is no way to fully prepare for throwing a routine to music ... 2:15 of constant movement. It's a whole different kind of conditioning and something that you have to throw over and over and over. At this point, it's just about running it, talking through mistakes, watching tape, and fixing the little things.
Canada: "You cheered from 1997 through 2001 while a student at Western Carolina. You're now in your sixth season as head coach. How has your past experience been able to help you prepare your team?
Cherry-Beck: "Eddie (Wells) and I take a lot of pride in leading this program. After cheering for four years and competing at both UCA and NCA, we both know how hard you practice and prepare for your one shot on the mat at nationals. Every team is different and each member is motivated differently so I definitely rely on my experiences as a teammate, a captain, and a coach as well as my time spent on the CHEERSPORT camp, regional's, and nationals staff to lead our team."
Canada: "How well prepared is your team? What do you think the outcome will be?"
Cherry-Beck: "I think we have put in the time, prepared and worked hard to get to this point. Now, it's just a matter of every one doing their part. I am so proud of the fact that this truly is OUR routine. We have all contributed in some way from stunt sequences to the dance, and Eddie (Wells) has put countless hours into perfecting our music. In addition to the practices and weights/conditioning, our team fundraised like crazy to get this opportunity. My goal for this team is to compete against ourselves only, hit our routine to the best of our ability and leave it all on the mat. Then, it's up to the judges from there...it sure would be great for our FAMILY to end our season in the `band shell!'"
Canada: "Overall, what are some things our readers may not know about cheerleading as a whole; and, what are your expectations for the national competition?"
Cherry-Beck: "Regardless of the outcome next week, I am so very proud of this team. Our top goal every year is to cheer on our Catamount football and men's and women's basketball teams. `Game day' cheerleading is what we emphasize from the very first summer practice. We also participate in the same things every other student-athlete at WCU does - from AEP hours to community service to weights and conditioning with Coach Bryan Tatum. This is the one thing we do for us ... AFTER our other responsibilities have been met.
We hope that everyone will come out this Sunday, April 4 at 7:00 pm in Reid Gym as we debut our routine for campus. And, we can't wait to get to Daytona to perform! Go Cats!"