SU Cheer Makes History, Competes in UCA College Nationals for First Time
“This was our first time competing at UCA College Nationals,” said junior Alexandra Vidaurri. Coming from almost nothing, the Southwestern Cheer team decided to go big when entering this year’s UCA college Nationals held in Disney. Not only would the competition test their skills but it would also test how bad the Southwestern Cheer team wanted to compete. This year’s Southwestern Cheer team would go down as the first SU cheer team to compete in Nationals. Some had competed before on other teams like first year Britney Carteret. “I’ve been doing cheerleading since middle school all the way through high school,” said Britney Carteret. “We always competed for NCA, which is another cheerleading association.” Some weren’t as confident going into the competition. “Before we got to Disney, I was really nervous to compete.” Said sophomore “Leah Cadwallader. “We didn’t really know what to expect at all, so it was pretty intimidating knowing that there were teams going that had competed for years, and that had teams much larger than ours.”
Whether or not they were prepared individually for the contest as a team they were ready. “We started practicing as soon as we arrived at campus in August after pirate training,” said sophomore Kyla Gorman. With the competition in mid-January over 4 months of training, the team still faced one last hurdle before they were able to compete. With money in short supply, the cheer team had to raise enough money to be able to compete. “We did not have all the funds at that time and we’re hoping to raise them in time to go to the competition,” said Gorman. The team’s hopes ran high as they approached the deadline earning enough money to compete. Their trip ran several days and although the competition was close for some the plane ride was a little more terrifying, (which makes sense, have you ever seen snakes on a plane?) “I think Jaelyn Herod was a little afraid of the plane ride since it was his first time on a plane, let alone out of Texas” said Carteret. As a whole, the team reached a consensus that their favorite part of the trip was the bonding experience they had at Disney, which when you take into account the teacups there says a lot about the team chemistry. “My favorite part of the trip as a whole was just bonding with the team,” said Vidaurri, “We had the option to travel around the park in pairs, we all traveled around the park as a team which speaks volumes.”
The team had a great time walking around the park exploring but it was not all fun and games for the team. They went into the competition expecting to compete with teams relatively the same size but when they arrived things did not go as planned. They anticipated that the competition would be separated into two divisions: small teams and large teams. Their problem was that there weren’t enough teams in the smaller division to even classify as a division and the three teams that would have fit into the category ended up having to compete in the larger division. SU competed with a total of 12 cheerleaders in a division that included several D1 teams with as many as 40 people on their team. Although SU did not do as well as they’d hoped in placement they were still happy overall with their performance. “We ended up getting 19th place, but we beat the other two “small” teams, so had the competition been divided, we would have placed first in our category,” said Gorman. “We were really happy with how we did, and next year we’re hoping to win against some D2 schools as well. It was also a really cool experience because a lot of the other teams, especially the other “small” teams, expressed their respect and excitement for our team to be competing in the national competition at Disney World.”
With the competition over the team hopes to do better next year each person with the hopes of adding new people to the team. “My aspiration for next year is to grow the team, not only in size but also in skill level. Most of us right now are new to cheer (including me) and I think it would just be really cool to see how much we can grow” said Cadwallader. Other on the team agree that the best route of approach would be to expand the team. “Hopefully we have a bigger team next year so we can do more complex stunts,” said Vidaurri, and Carteret hopes “to add more skills to our performance and to hopefully get more girls to join the squad.” We all have our own expectations and goals and although SU cheer didn’t place first they will never forget this year’s competition.