The university will host the first ever national championship for cheer and dance March 10-11.
This year, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics is the first and only national organization to officially adopt cheer and dance as a sport.
Competitive cheer and dance is the first to be named a competitive sport by NAIA in 22 years.
OCU was chosen to host the championships this year and next year through a bid process sent out by NAIA.
“It’s a good opportunity for our kids,” said Alicia Bailey, spirit coordinator and head cheer coach. “I think it’ll be nice not to have to travel, for them to be able to sleep in their own beds, compete in a familiar gym in front of their home crowd.”
OCU’s cheer and dance teams have competed in invitational competitions, in previous years. In March, they will compete against 11 other cheer teams and 11 other dance teams, all members of NAIA.
Cheer will compete with 20 members, and pom will compete with 16, the maximum numbers allowed.
“We’ve won two out of the three national invitationals, so we’re really looking forward to winning the first actual championship in front of our home crowd,” Bailey said.
Students are excited about the new status of the cheer and dance teams.
“I am excited that cheer is becoming an actual sport recognized by the NAIA,” said Dawson MacLeod, acting sophomore and cheer team member.
Emily Tryon, acting sophomore, said that cheerleading should be respected as a sport.
“It’s really hard to do,” she said.
Students are encouraged to attend the championships March 10-11 in Abe Lemons Arena in the Henry J. Freede Wellness and Activity Center. Times for the contests have not yet been established.