April 23, 2012
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina's cheerleading squad finished in ninth place in its division at the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA)/ National Dance Association (NDA) Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championship held April 11-15 in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Holding its first competition in Dallas, Texas, in 1981, the 2012 NCA/NDA Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championships featured 12 dance divisions and 18 cheer divisions. WCU competed in the small co-ed division of what is billed as "the largest College Cheer and Dance Championship in the world."
"The team did an outstanding job at nationals," said Assistant Coach Eddie Wells, who guided the team as head coach Kim Cherry-Beck was giving birth to her son, Easton James. "We had one goal and that was to come down to Daytona and hit our routine and we accomplished that. Our routine was one of the cleanest routines at nationals."
According to available records, the Catamount cheerleading squad has attended the national championship seven times since 2001, placing a program-high third in 2002. WCU has advanced to the finals three times in 2002, 2003 and again in 2010, finishing seventh overall.
The Catamount cheerleaders left Cullowhee bound for the Sunshine State and Daytona Beach on Wednesday, April 10. Upon the squad's arrival, it had a quick workout on-site to warm-up all parts of the routine. On Thursday, April 11, WCU Cheer competed in the preliminary round at the Ocean Center, performing a game-day piece - a 45-second, crowd response cheer - and their nationals routine.
Judged on crowd appeal, showmanship, crowd response techniques, effective use of props and overall execution, the team scored a perfect "10" on its game-day piece which showcased the squad's ability to lead a crowd.
Directly following the game day piece the team performed its routine; a two minute and 15-second routine that incorporated stunts, tumbling, pyramids, jumps, dancing and basket tosses. Overall, only a couple of stunts bobbled, but with only five teams advancing to the finals, WCU's effort came up just short.
Despite not advancing into the finals round, the Catamount cheerleaders had the chance to again perform and compete in the "Challenge Cup." This extra opportunity to again perform was another chance to move into the finals. WCU nailed a clean routine the second time around, placing fourth.
Overall the WCU Cheerleaders ended up ninth in the nation in their division.
"There are very few teams get the opportunity to compete for a national championship and I am glad our team had the experience this year," said Wells. "I am so proud of how this team has worked all year overcoming lots of adversity along the way. They are a very special group of student-athletes and I believe the experience at nationals was great for all involved."