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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Activities & Organizations

Cheerleading leaps toward national championship title


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The UH Cheerleading team will head to Florida Wednesday to compete at the National Cheerleading Association’s National Championship April 6-10. | Courtesy of Jasmine Arnold.

Cheer is moving from the field to the stage this week as it competes in the National Cheerleaders Association’s Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championship in Daytona Beach, Florida from April 6 to 10.

This is the team’s second time competing at nationals after nearly a decade of not competing. It received a bid to the national competition after doing well at the NCA summer camp. To prepare, the team is completing a demanding training program under the watchful eye of head coach Jasmine Arnold.

“It has been a challenge preparing for nationals, but anything worth having is going to be a challenge,”hotel and restaurant management senior Asia Blanton said.  “We push ourselves to continue to not only be ambassadors for UH, but student athletes as well.  We practice at least two hours everyday working on our personal skills and our skills as a team.”

There are multiple divisions and levels at the NCA competition, which are broken down into intermediate and elite levels with all-female and coed divisions.  UH will compete in the Intermediate Coed I division alongside nine other schools. Arnold said the team’s biggest competition is the University of Michigan.

“However, everyone in our division is our main competition,” Arnold said. “You never know who will score well or who will hit a perfect routine. At the end of the day, we are our biggest competition, as we want to do better than we did last year and place higher in our division.”

The goal of improving on last year was a constant attitude throughout the team.

“Last spring, we competed for the first time in 10 years, and it was an amazing time,” Blanton said.  “This year, we are going to go out there and represent the University of Houston and our city the best we can.”

A fun-loving attitude is one of the team’s big themes heading into the competition. The team placed seventh at last year’s national competition.

“I was very proud of that,” construction management senior Xavier Everette said. “But I can’t wait to see what we do this year. I’m just ready to have fun and put on a great show.”

But there’s more to it than just the fun — preparing for competitions is tiring physically and mentally, Arnold said.

“Cheerleading is very intense,” Arnold said. “It takes a lot of effort to toss people in the air, pitch them high in a pyramid and flip (them) on all surfaces. It is also taxing mentally. Trusting someone to throw you many feet into the air and catch you takes a lot of work.”

The captains are responsible for making sure all members of the team are on the same page, especially when it comes to tricky moves.

“We have to make sure that everyone knows everything possible,” Blanton said. “We lead the team in practices and in games. We want to set a standard for everyone else to know what it means to be a University of Houston cheerleader.”

Team members said they are excited to return to nationals and to represent the city.

“It is an honor and a great opportunity to represent the University at a national level,” Everette said. “Practices have been very hard, but you only get the chance to do this once a year. So in the end, the work is definitely worth it.”

Win or lose, Arnold said the UH community needs to know what the cheerleaders are doing and support them as they compete and represent the school.

“We’re one of the most visible ambassadors of the University due to all the athletic events and all the work we do both around Houston and on campus,” Arnold said. “It’s important that we have the school behind us because this is the one time we get to showcase our skills.”

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