The university hosted and won the first National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics Competitive Cheer Championship.
The championship was March 11 in Henry J. Freede Wellness and Activity Center.
“We finally have recognition for our hard work and our athletes,” Cheer Coach Alicia Bailey told OCUsports.com.“We’ve always known that our sport was athletic, and it’s exciting to be recognized like all the other sports.”
The cheer team finished first with a score of 87.08.
“It was a good season, it had a lot of ups and downs,” Cheer Senior Ben Harris said. “But we learned to push through that adversity and persevere and make that championship happen. It was the first cheer sport national championship, so it was very exciting to have that happen here.”
The team practices several times a week, starting at 6 a.m. on most days.
“The 6 a.m. practices mean just getting to grow with everyone, basically, putting in work. It’s definitely a different dynamic than any other sport I’ve done, but it’s definitely the most rewarding,” Harris said. “Once you’re done with that two minutes and thirty seconds, it’s a relief.”
The pom squad finished fifth with a score of 84.30.
“I was very pleased with our performance today,” Pom Coach Tasha Hinex told OCUsports. “We knew the level of competition would be very high today, and I thought our team stepped up to the challenge.”
Pom Freshman Abby Peek said the pom squad is hoping to place a little higher, but will continue to work hard and bond as a team. She said making sure everyone is solid on their skills will be a big focus, especially in the first semester.
Cheer Sophomore Dawson MacLeod said he hopes new members come in ready to work hard next season.
“I’m sad to see these seniors go, but I hope that the recruits that we pull in next year are willing to step up and really put in everything that they have,” he said.
Harris said the team strives to be better next season than they were this season, despite their win.
“We want to grow as a team. We want to definitely do better than we did last year, that’s our goal every year.”
Contributing: Miguel Rios, editor-in-chief