From Jan. 14–16, West Chester University’s cheerleading team participated in the UCA College National Championships at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. Competing in the All Girl Game Day division, West Chester finished in fifth place overall. This is the team’s third top-ten finish and the highest mark in team history.
The last time West Chester participated in Nationals was in January of 2020, where they finished in ninth place overall. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of sports across the country, the competition did not take place in 2021. Because of this, the team was anxious to get back to the Sunshine State and put all their hard work to the test on the world stage.
The UCA National Championships first started taking place in 1978. The UCA, which stands for the Universal Cheerleaders Association, invites the top cheerleading high school and college teams to Orlando every year, where they are divided into co-ed and all-girl divisions.
As far as scoring goes for the competitions, all teams start with zero points and can earn up to 100 points for their routine. They are scored based on their cheer section, which is worth 35 points, their building section, which is worth 45 points and overall performance, which is worth 20 points. Points can be deducted from the total for incidents, such as exceeding a time limit, unsportsmanlike conduct, falls, safety violations and bobbles.
West Chester performed two cheer routines during the weekend and finished with a stellar score of 93 in the final round, placing them as fifth in their division. Both routines were pulled off impressively, with zero deductions taken from the total. In addition to their top-five finish, the Golden Rams were also the highest scoring Division II team in the Game Day division.
“The past two times that we competed at nationals, we finished in ninth place. This year the team struggled with athletes being out due to COVID. We had not been able to run our routine until the day of competition. We truly had no idea how the decision to come to nationals, with the odds stacked against us would turn out,” says Morgan Sanderson, a third-year member of the team who is one of the captains. “Our team pulled together and hit two perfect routines. This year, when the ninth place team was announced and it wasn’t WCU, everyone was already so excited to have broken the trend, knowing we were going to place the highest in Ram Cheer history. As the announcer continued to call eighth, seventh and sixth place, our name still was not called. After each placement was called, I was in disbelief that they still had not called our name. When we were announced for fifth place, the crowd would have thought we had won. We are ecstatic to have been a part of a history-making team, knowing we beat all the odds that were thrown our way. We are so proud to be representing WCU in a positive way!”
Fresh off their record setting performance, the team is already looking ahead to the 2022–2023 season with a busy schedule on their hands. This semester, you will find them on the court cheering on the basketball teams, in addition to various competitions that will be announced at a later date. In March and April, the team will host three college prep clinics for high school students, where prospective athletes can learn new skills and more about college cheerleading.
When asked about what college cheerleading is like for those interested in joining the team in the future, Lindsey Dickerson, a fifth-year backspot from Garnet Valley, said that “College cheerleading is coming into college with already having a support system, a group of friends and a family away from home. Starting off college as a freshman can be scary and overwhelming at times, so having a place to go to help you feel more at home is such a special thing. When being an athlete in college, you learn amazing time management skills, you have a mentor to help you map out your schedule and ensure you have the tools needed to succeed in your academics, as well as continuing doing what you love. Having practice, games and events gives you something to do to keep busy while having people there to support and help you along the way!”
For more information on the cheerleading team and how to get involved, visit the West Chester Golden Rams athletics website.
Erick Klambara is a third-year Media & Culture major with a minor in Journalism. EK924666@wcupa.edu