Cheerleading Team Places 5th
Heading into Saturday's National Championships in Orlando, Fla., the University's cheerleading team was ranked sixth coming into what was definitely their biggest competition of the year. When everything was said and done, the team proved they were even better than that sixth place ranking, as they finished in fifth place.
"This competition is about hitting everything you do, being clean, and being in unison," Senior Andy Gibson said. "We only had one little bobble in the finals, so I think we definitely saved our best for last."
Hofstra University won the championship with Sacramento State, Oklahoma and the University of South Alabama finishing in second, third and fourth respectively. The University's team finished just 1.8 points behind 4th place and beat the University of Louisiana at Monroe. The University of Louisiana at Monroe was ranked second before the competition and had an all-expenses-paid bid for the Championships. The University's team came home with a fifth-place trophy and according to head coach Anne Marie King, put the program in a great spot for the future.
According to King, despite setting high goals for themselves, the team surpassed every goal they had set for the year.
"We set high standards and worked really hard all year," King said. "They performed really well and went above and beyond anything we had initially set out to do."
Their goal going into the National Championships was to make it to the finals. Once they did that, King said she asked her team not to be complacent and to continue to work hard. The team did and was able to come away with a high place, something King attributes to their senior leadership.
The team attributes much of the year's success to that senior leadership and experience. The team has eight seniors on the competition squad who have been leading them all year.
"I think that's what brought our team together," King said. "Having eight seniors and their experience in the last few years helped us a lot. They led by demonstrating and I think the younger members really followed them."
One of those leaders is senior Nikki Harris.
"They always say Disney is the most magical place on earth," Harris said. "And I'm not sure if it was the environment or just us coming together, but we definitely did the best we've ever done."
To Harris this fifth place is about more than just a national ranking. Harris sees it as something much bigger than a personal accomplishment, but a step forward for her sport.
"I think it sheds a new light on what our team is about, on our ability and on cheerleading in general," Harris said. "It shows that we've really worked hard all week and all year and it paid off."
In addition to all this, Harris also sees this performance and experience as a stepping-stone for the future. It will help the team with recruiting, it puts their name up there with some of the most elite teams in the country, and gives the team a new level of confidence.
"We have two freshmen on the competition team," Harris said. "I think in this experience we pushed through so much and still did what we did, they know that we can get better from here. Now they know that we have the ability to do that."
With the future of the program looking great and the team excited about the accomplishments they have made, Gibson could not be more proud of his team.
"I'm extremely proud of my teammates and coaches and the hard work we've done," Gibson said. "Its great to bring back a piece of hardware to show off our hard work."