April 17, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina's cheerleading squad finished in sixth place in its division at the 2013 National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) / National Dance Association (NDA) Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championships held April 11-14 in Daytona Beach, Fla.
WCU was a part of the Division I small co-ed competition as one of 11 teams in the division. Teams are judged on crowd appeal, showmanship, crowd response techniques, effective use of props and overall execution, showcasing the squad's ability to lead a crowd. The team performance routine incorporated stunts, tumbling, pyramids, jumps, dancing and basket tosses.
In the preliminary round, the squad performed its two parts which included a 45-second "game day" piece followed by a team routine set to music that went for two minutes and 15 seconds.
Following Thursday's preliminary round, the Catamounts were in third-place, carrying their game day routine score into Friday's final while performing the 2:15 routine again - only this time at the "band shell," the largest stage in collegiate cheerleading.
Making its first finals appearance since 2010, the Catamounts concluded the competition in sixth place in their division. The squad improved upon a ninth-place overall showing in the 2012 event.
"It was a great weekend for Western Carolina Cheerleading," said head coach Kim Cherry-Beck. "To come out of the preliminary round in third-place was awesome, and advancing to finals and competing in the band shell - the largest stage in college cheer - was definitely our team goal. We had a few mistakes in the finals, but overall, it was a good ending to a very special year."
According to available records, the Catamount cheerleading squad has attended the national championship now eight times since 2001, placing a program-high third in 2002. WCU has advanced to the finals four times, doing so in 2002, 2003, and 2010 and again this year in 2013.
Cherry-Beck and the cheerleaders felt the highlight of the trip, though, was when they were able to meet a very special supporter. Kase Powell is a three-year old boy who is battling cancer. Just over a month ago, Cherry-Beck reached out to the Powell family for the WCU cheerleading program to see what the squad could do to help raise awareness of childhood cancer and to support Kase.
(If you would like to join the WCU cheerleaders in supporting Kase, please visit http://www.littlekaseman.net)
The squad continued to collect can tabs on his behalf for the Ronald McDonald house. In conjunction with the Catamount baseball team, the cheerleaders sent a "Whee are Cheering for You" package to Kase and his family that included WCU T-shirts, autographed baseballs and cheerleading posters. Throughout their preparations and trip to nationals, the squad wore gray, "Kase - Fight Back" bracelets.
Following the team's preliminary competition, the squad got to meet Kase and his family - who live just 30 minutes from Daytona Beach - in person as the family was in the audience supporting the WCU cheerleaders in their competition.
"Meeting our brave friend, Kase, there in Daytona Beach was the icing on the cake to our trip to Nationals," said Cherry-Beck, whose son Easton James, celebrated his one-year birthday during the squad's trip to Florida.
The national competition concludes the year for the WCU cheerleading squad with try-outs for the 2013-14 squad scheduled for April 26-28 with an open gym on Monday, April 22 in Cullowhee.
"We have some great seniors on this team that will certainly be missed," Cherry-Beck said. "But, we also have some extremely talented returners that are very capable of continuing the great tradition we have with WCU Cheer."