The moment the university cheerleading team has been waiting for is finally here: spring football season.
While the cheerleaders have been active throughout the year attending events and other fall sports, many have been looking forward to having a “normal” routine again.
Bailey Strother, a freshman nursing major, said adapting was difficult at the beginning of the pandemic due to team members catching the illness and needing to quarantine. She discussed how COVID-19 has changed the standards of the team.
Strother said, “There was a point where we had to take a break in hopes of COVID calming down. But we are back on our feet, we wear a mask at events and take precautions to prevent anyone else from getting it. We also check temperatures before every team get together. We have since been able to get back on our feet and enjoy this crazy season as much as possible.”
Taelen Jacomine, a freshman biology major, said her freshman experience has looked different compared to older members on the team but has still been amazing.
“Even though football season and college nationals were both pushed back because of COVID, our coaches do everything to make sure that we are still getting a full experience, and everyone on the team is making the best of what we can to prepare for the football season. We have game day practice every week, sometimes on the football field. We also have had workouts since the beginning of fall semester to ensure that we stayed in shape for football season and nationals,” Jacomine said.
The cheerleading team will be competing in the 2021 UCA and UDA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship on April 27-28 at the Walt Disney World Resort. Unlike previous years, the competition is open virtually for teams who are unable to join in-person.
Torion Vallery, a junior sport management major, discussed what this year’s competition will look like.
“A virtual competition basically means that everything will be done virtually. The team will submit videos of our routines for a panel of judges to score and determine where we rank against others in our division. This will determine if the team makes it to finals, where we will then submit another video for our final placement in the nationals virtual division,” Vallery said.
Not only do the cheerleaders keep busy at events, but also on their off days practicing for the UCA Championship. Vallery shared what that preparation entailed.
He said, “When it comes to preparing for competition, the best thing to do would be to make sure that we are getting our reps in. Doing the routine as many times as we can so that our bodies can become conditioned to the skills that we need to perform and make sure that we can hit them to the best of our capability.”
Although the competition will not be in-person, the team is still excited to represent the university and compete against other cheerleaders.
Strother said, “I am most looking forward to seeing how the team performs for Virtual Nationals. We have been through an interesting season due to Covid, but it hasn’t stopped our determination and dedication to be the best and take home a win.”
Strother reflected on her biggest lesson learned while cheering for the university.
“The biggest thing I have learned while being on the team would have to be how important supporting one another is. Supporting each other is crucial to success and this has built our team to be where it is today,” Strother concluded.