The small co-ed cheer squad is defending its national title at the National Cheer Alliance Collegiate National Championship this week.
The win would be the squad’s third consecutive NCA national title.
Coaches changed the squad’s routine after placing second at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Invitational on March 13 in Davenport, Iowa. The squad worked on this routine for about three weeks before taking it to nationals.
“The new routine was absolutely a good idea for us,” said Katie Winnicki, mass communications and cheer sophomore. “We got very comfortable with the old routine and after the loss in Iowa, it really drained us and we really needed something new to give us that edge.
“I hear everyone say after almost every routine we’ve done, ‘this is the hardest routine we’ve done,’ and it’s a good thing because each time you add something in, it’s pushing you to do more of your skills and better yourself.”
NCA has a rule that teams can only consist of a maximum of four men and 20 members total. The team was cut to 18 members including the four men.
“We had to make a lot of changes after losing NAIA,” said Loni Carbaugh, psychology and cheer junior. “We still have a lot of work to do, but I definitely think if we are able to hit this routine with zero deductions, I have no doubt that we would win.”
Brandy Corcoran, former head coach, helped the cheer squad get to NAIA and helped make necessary changes after not placing first. She also helped with the squad’s “game day,” which is leading the crowd before the team’s performance.
“She knows what she’s doing so she’s a very effective leader and coach,” Carbaugh said.
The cheer and pom squads leave for Daytona April 6 and return Sunday. Pom is competing in the National Dance Alliance Collegiate National Championship with two routines, team performance and hip-hop.
The pom squad placed third for team performance and fourth for hip-hop at NDA last year, and placed sixth at the NAIA Invitational.
“We expect to place first in both divisions at NDA,” said Talor Kline, business administration and pom sophomore. “I know it sounds a little crazy to jump from sixth place to first place in less than a month, but our coach, Tasha Hinex, has put a lot of time and thought into us and we trust her to put us in a division where we can win.”
“We have a really good chance to win at NDA and we can’t wait to bring home some national championship banners.”