Tech cheerleaders prepare for national competition

Tech’s cheerleading squad prepares for the Universal Cheerleading Association’s National Competition at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., Jan. 13-15.

The squad members put in nine hours of team practice per week along with tumbling classes and at least 30 minutes of additional stunting six days a week in order to get ready for competition. They also cheer for all home football and basketball games.

“It’s a lot of commitment for them but it will be worth it,” Coach Robin Burroughs said. “I want them to be as prepared as they can be for competition this year. It’s a good feeling to know that you are ready and have done all you can do.”

In previous years, Tech has had two school squads, All-Girl and Co-ed, but Burroughs has combined them into one small co-ed squad.

“By having one squad, we can focus more on having a stronger program for competition,” Burroughs said.

The squad will perform a two-and-a-half minute routine that consists of a crowd cheer, tumbling and stunting. They must also prepare a crowd tape, a compilation of the squad’s game and community involvement, that will be shown at the championship and accounts for 15% of their score at Nationals.

“It’s a lot work getting the videos ready but the squad has done a great job of working hard and practicing to get the skills they need,” Burroughs said.

The 2012 competition will be Tech’s third showing at UCA Nationals and Burroughs says she hopes the third time’s a charm.

“I’m really excited about the talent of our cheer team this year,” Burroughs said. “It’s a step up as it has been every year.”

Ashley Farris, senior exercise science, physical education and wellness major, is a captain of the cheerleading team.

“Our program is a very close-knit, hardworking program and I think we all want to see it move forward,” Farris said. I think that’s our biggest goal for this year.

Ashley Mitchell, junior education major and also a captain of the cheerleading team said, “The dedication and skill level of the squad have gone through the roof. It takes a lot of dedication to compete. We really have to make sure everyone keeps up on their skills and working out if we want to win.”

She says her favorite part of cheerleading is competing.

“It’s such an adrenaline rush,” Mitchell said. “You’re kind of nervous but once you step out onto the mat, the nerves go away and you just do what you’ve been working so hard to do.”

Last year, Tech competed against 15 teams in Small Co-ed Division 1. Competitors included the University of Oklahoma, George Mason University and the winner, Hofstra University. Tech competed on day one of competition however did not make it into the finals.

“Last year we didn’t do as well as we had hoped but the level of skill and dedication has increased a lot this year,” Burroughs said. “I’m already extremely proud of the team and I know they are just going to continue to get better and better.”