April 7, 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.
Nationals are the biggest collegiate competition of the year. Almost 5,000 student-athletes and 15,000 supporters and spectators attend yearly. The competition is broken down into 14 divisions: All-Girl or Coed, skill level, university enrollment, Junior College, or International. As for us, we are small coed 1 because of our school size, skill level and the number of guys we have on our team.
The competition is set up like this:
The preliminary competition starts on Thursday, April 8 in the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Fla. The top six teams from each division will advance on to finals. On Friday, April 9, a challenge cup is held in the Ocean Center where each team that did not make it to the next round will get to fight one more time to make it to finals. The winner of each division in the challenge cup gets to advance on to finals. The final competition starts on Friday, April 9 around lunch time in the Band Shell.
The competition routine is broken down into six categories: stunts, pyramids, tosses or jumps, tumbling, motions/dance and crowd participation. Professional judges score each category and look for sharpness, skill level, team cohesiveness and creativity when scoring each category. Each category will receive a score depending on these factors. Even simple things such as pointed toes in tumbling and the degree of angles in your motions can play a big part in scoring.
On the day of the preliminary competition each team does a crowd cheer. The cheer is 45 seconds long with several restrictions: no baskets (tosses), two and a half high pyramids, running tumbling or extended stunts. This section is to see if you can traditionally lead a crowd with the use of signs, megaphones, poms and flags. Once the crowd cheer is completed you have 30 seconds to get set for your routine. After your 30 seconds are up, the music is turned on. Each team only performs this segment of the routine one time. The score you earn carries on for each performance up to the finals.
Our competition routine starts with standing tumbling and baskets in the back. We then have our first stunt sequence: full ups to arabesque, tipsy, straddle up to liberties and pop off. Next we have our first pyramid: high stretch to high stag and full down. Then we have the dance with a full basket going in the back.
Next we have running tumbling with an x-out basket going in the back. Then we have quick-up stretch doubles. We end our routine with our second pyramid, a star to 2-2-1. This part of the routine lasts two minutes and 15 seconds and is repeated at each level of the competition.
Sounding like a foreign language yet...?
With many other sports, you have a chance or time to make up for mistakes. You have innings, quarters, halves and periods. With cheerleading, we get one chance - a mere two minutes and 15 seconds - to hit our routine perfectly. Like Coach Kim says, we don't get another "at-bat?" or a second chance at the free throw line. If we miss, we miss. It is everybody working as one to ensure that our one chance gets us to the finals.
Last week, Western Carolina University was on spring break. While our friends were off at the beach, we stayed in Cullowhee to practice. The atmosphere surrounding our practices was positive and we had a great week. But, we all know you can only practice so much before you just need to perform. We are all more than excited to get down to Daytona and see how our hard work pays off.
We do want to thank everyone that came out to support our squad last Sunday (April 4) as we debuted our nationals routine in Reid Gym. We greatly appreciate the support - and hope to bring a championship back to Cullowhee this weekend!