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The Mass Media

Cheerleading wins second place at Nationals in Daytona

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Umass Boston Cheerleading in Florida. Photo from @umassbostoncheer.   

The UMass Boston Cheer Team won second place during the NCA College Nationals in Daytona, Fla. This year marked their second time competing at nationals and their first time finishing on the podium.

Last year, although new to the program and not knowing what to expect, they were able to place fourth. This year, they had more experience, and their routine had more difficulty.

 “Our stunts are harder. We’re doing harder skills, and people are tumbling more. We have about three back handsprings in a row, whereas last year we only had two back handsprings,” explained Mary McDonald.

“It looks really light and easy, but that’s our job to make it look light and easy. It’sactually quite strenuous,” added McDonald.

The judges at Daytona scored the teams on three categories: building skills, tumbling skills and overall performance (2).

Building skills consisted of stunts, pyramids and tosses; all exercises where cheerleaders give the flyer momentum to stand or fly above them.

Tumbling is made up of standing, running and jumps. In standing tumbling, the cheerleaders perform strings of back handsprings or front handsprings from stillness. In running tumbling, the cheerleaders perform a running entrance to gain momentum before performing a string of movements. In this case, the momentum enables them to perform skills of higher difficulty by flipping and turning in the air. The six sections are valued in technique and difficulty, each worth five points.

Overall performance is made up of collegiate image, overall effect and choreography. Each section is worth 10 points, culminating to a total of 90 possible points. The team had to fulfill these requirements within the two minutes and fifteen seconds allowed.

They had two opportunities to perform it. The first on Thursday, April 6, counted for 25 percent of their final score. After this, the judges give each team feedback to consider for their second performance. The second one took place Friday, April 7, and counted for the other 75 percent.

The Beacons presented a strong routine they constantly worked on in order to reach the highest score possible. A few weeks before leaving for Florida, they decided to turn up the tempo of the music, making the stunts and jumps faster.

Consequently, doing all the skills in such a short amount of time may be the hardest feat. “They go from throwing their passes, to doing their stunts […] The hardest part would be the end, coming out of the pyramid, because it takes a lot of energy and then they have to dance and perform until the end,” explained Levi Everett.

Some other changes were unexpected. Mere days before leaving, Olivia Moos, one of the flyers, was injured. Luckily, the team was prepared  for something like this  and was able to put in an alternate to keep the team going.

“We only had four practices to put someone in my spot and re-work the whole routine before competing on day one. Luckily, we are an extremely driven and talented team and were able to push through the stress and uncertainty,” shared Moos.

She continued, “Some teams have to drop out of the competition when an athlete gets injured, especially so close to competing. So, it is an honor to be on such an amazing team that doesn’t give up and was able to accomplish greatness despite the odds being stacked against us.”

The routines were ultimately successful, giving the beacons the silver spot in the Intermediate All-Girl Division III category with a final score of 93.7685 (1).

Although College Nationals is a common goal for the team, the true reward was the bond they made with each other. “To celebrate we just spent quality time together as a team,” Moos said. “Daytona is always bittersweet because everyone is so proud of our accomplishments over the year, but it is our last time together for the season and our last moments with our seniors.”

The team members shared that cheerleading taught them important lessons in time management, grit and teamwork that they take with them beyond the mat, making them stronger students and workers.

“I hope this success enables UMass Boston to see that the cheerleading program is more than a stereotype, and we are capable of greatness. Competitive cheer is a sport that is not commonly recognized in the Northeast, but we are all amazing athletes and motivated to be the best versions of ourselves both on and off the mat,” Moos said.

“This is just the beginning for us—2023 was only our second year competing at nationals. Placing second with less than a point between us and the first-place team, who has been going to NCA for many years, was an amazing accomplishment for the program. Each year the team grows exponentially both mentally and physically. We are all hungry to take the mat next year and continue to make the UMass Boston community proud.”

  1. https://tv.varsity.com/events/7977369/results

2.https://www.varsity.com/nca/wpcontent/uploads/2022/09/23_NCA_College_Nationals_Sample_Scoresheets.pdf

About the Contributor
Valentina Valderrama Perez, Features Writer