NATCHITOCHES – The Northwestern State University cheerleading squad will compete at the Collegiate Cheerleading National Championship at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., Jan. 17-20. NSU will compete in the Division I – Large Co-Ed Category.
“It’s a great opportunity for the squad to experience something new and to begin a new tradition,” said Captain Kierra Cunningham. “I want to go because it is a great experience. I competed through high school and I can’t explain the nervous feeling of butterflies and excitement. It is the most thrilling feeling to step onto the mat knowing you are about to go out with your team to show off what you’ve worked for all year. Competition is what defines a sport. I can’t wait for my team and I to get the playing field for one weekend. I cannot even imagine what the feeling and atmosphere will be like at the collegiate level.”
The team raised $11,000, with the help of NSU’s Student Government Association, to defray the costs of competition.
“I have been associated with NSU Cheer for seven years and have witnessed the growth of the team through skill, leadership, dedication, and passion,” said Amy Dodson, coach. “The cheerleaders work year round supporting athletic teams, events and alumni at the university. The process to prepare for the competition is time consuming in that the cheerleaders are still required to cheer at all home games and events while doubling practice times and finding time to fundraise in order to make this goal possible.”
Dodson said the cheerleaders will be practicing just like any athletic team on campus during the semester break.
“The team is taking this opportunity very seriously,” Dodson said. “I feel confident and proud to bring this team to compete against the top teams in the nation. Competition is an opportunity for the cheerleaders to show off their talents and become the athletes for one weekend while fans, parents and alumni become the team’s cheerleaders. The competition also gets Northwestern’s name known nationally. No matter the placement of the team, the squad will come back as a nationally ranked team.”
The competition will be broadcast on ESPN, which Dodson believes will draw more prospective students for tryouts next April.
To support the team with a monetary donation, go to northwesternalumni.com/cashgift. Donors should designate that the gift is intended for the cheerleader account within the designated box.