April 8, 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 are competing in the 30th-Annual National Cheerleaders Association (NCA)/National Dance Association (NDA) Collegiate Cheer & Dance Championships in Daytona Beach, Fla., this week.
The Catamounts took to the mats around 11:00 am on Thursday in the opening round of the competition. Canada will continue provide a series of blogs that will provide insight as the squad continues its competition in Florida in the national competition through CatamountSports.com.
Our National's adventure started on the morning of Wednesday (April 7) at 6:45 am. We arrived in Daytona Beach, Fla., around 5:00 pm after a couple of stops and an hour lunch break. Once we crossed the bridge into Daytona, it was wall-to-wall cheerleaders. Squads from all over the country had swarmed every speck of grass. This year there are 230 teams, the largest number to attend nationals to date.
As a team, we got settled in and unpacked. After being in the vans all day we were ready to get outside and get moving. At 7:00 pm, we meet in the lobby of our hotel and headed out to find our own speck of grass. We were all in shock as we watched some of the best cheerleading programs such as Louisville, SFA, Hawaii-Pacific and UCS practice. Coach Kim gathered us up and reminded us we had a job of our own to do. Once we came back to reality, we got started ourselves.
We stretched, warmed up each section of our routine and then marked our routine to music a few times. By the time we had progressed through all of this, it was time for our scheduled practice. Each team gets two, 15-minute practice sections - one on two strips of mat and the other on a full floor. In our first 15 minutes, we warmed up all tumbling, opening standing and running. We then threw each stunt sequence. In our second 15 minutes, we went over spacing - our practice floor at school is two strips smaller, so we had some adjusting to do. We then threw our routine full out over and over until they called time.
After our first day, we all still had a few nerves - but, we are all also very excited. Wednesday night we had a team meeting. Coach Kim told us what time we would be meeting in the morning and what we should wear. We then opened our "heart boxes."
At the beginning of our competition practices this year, we all set a personal goal and a team goal and put them in the heart box. The goals were private for each person; the box hasn't been opened since we first sealed them. We each read our goals aloud to the team - this was a positive time of us. We all understand what the other wants out of this experience, and we know what we have to do to reach our goals.
Thursday, our first day of competition... wow the nerves were flowing for almost all of us. We had two additional 15-minute practice times - again, one of the two strips and one on the full floor. Our warm-ups went pretty well and we were definitely getting excited. However, after the warm-up practice, we had a 45 minute wait between us and competing.
This "delay" was a different time for every member of the team; you have some who like to be left alone while others who like to get pumped up. And you have some who want to listen to music and run the routine in their heads.
Once we got into the holding area, everyone came together; our coach gave us a few last minute words, our captain chimed in, as did we seniors. Everyone was so excited and ready to go.
As we came off the floor following our initial performance, each person had a different expression. Emotions ran from excited to happy; disappointed to shocked - you name it and we had it covered. As a whole we did fair. We all agreed that we can and have performed better. We had a few bobbles and a stunt fall. But like Coach Kim says, "you can't do anything about it now, stay positive and back your team."
We watched the rest of the teams in our division. Once the last team competed the judges gathered all the scores and announced the teams that would be moving on to finals. We all had mixed feelings and were not sure where we would fall in the overall standings.
With much anticipation, we listened as the standings were announced - and after day one, Western Carolina was in 5th place out of the 12 teams. We had moved on the finals!
Everyone is so excited as we by-passed the challenge cup portion and made it! This was a huge deal for us! We had bobbles and a stunt fall and still got fifth. This gives us great hope for finals - if we hit our routine, we have a great change at placing high.
We will again practice tonight around 5:45 pm. Our energy is high and everyone is thinking really positive. Hopefully practice will go great - we will work out the kinks and get ready for tomorrow.
For many of us this was our first time competing since high school. Being back on the mat with the lights in your face with the fans, spectators and cheerleaders yelling and screaming for you was a great feeling. We have worked most of our nerves out and we are more than excited and ready to do it all again on Friday!
Western Carolina Cheerleaders Fifth after Thursday's Preliminary Round
The Western Carolina University cheerleaders stand fifth out of 12 teams in the Small University Coed Division following Thursday's preliminary round performance. The Catamounts were one of six teams to advance to the finals of their division and will compete on Friday around lunch time.
WCU was able to by-pass the "Challenge Cup" round which allows one additional team which did not qualify for the championship round to earn a spot in the finals. This will allow the squad to fine-tune its performance for the championship.
California-Long Beach stands first after the opening round, followed by Texas-Arlington, Stephen F. Austin, Texas-San Antonio and WCU rounding out the top five. The University of Albany also made the cut for the finals with those six to be joined by a seventh team out of Friday morning's challenge cup round.
With the threat of inclement weather in central Florida, the finals competition has been rescheduled to be held indoors at the Ocean Center rather than the famed outdoor Band Shell arena.