Southern cheerleaders amp up for national competition

Emily Seigel

This spring, Missouri Southern will get a chance to showcase its school spirit on a national level.

The cheerleaders will compete April 7-10 at the 2010 National Cheerleaders Association competition for the first time, held at Daytona Beach, Fla.

“We have never, ever qualified before,” said cheer captain Jessica Baker, senior marketing major. “We’ve been really trying to build the program so we could go. This is our first year that we’ve had enough athletes that were talented enough to take.”

Last summer, Southern’s spirit squad received a Gold Bid from the National Cheerleaders Association college camp in Kansas. The award will cover expenses such as hotel rooms and entry fees. MSSU was one of three selected from approximately 15 teams who attended the camp.

“We’re almost completely paid for to go, and that’s like thousands of dollars, which is awesome,” Baker said.

Selection of the Gold Bid was based on a skill evaluation that took place during the camp.

“We did a game day performance where we use signs and poms and led the crowd,” Baker said. “We also did a routine to music.

“We’re going to have a nationals team of 10 guys and nine girls. We’re probably going to have an evaluation period where we pick the ones that have the right skills to go.”

Baker said the team for nationals will likely be finalized in 2-3 months.

“I think we’re pretty well-rounded,” she said. “We have a lot of good tumblers, good stunters. We can do a lot of really good pyramids and things like that.

“We also have a lot of heart. We have a lot of people that really, really want to go. I think that’s what’s going to make it for us.”

Baker said MSSU’s biggest competition at nationals would be Hawaii Pacific University.

“[They have] won nationals, I think, 11 years in a row,” she said. “Really big colleges like that are going to be there.”

Baker’s goal for the cheerleading squad is to make it to the finals.

“They pick three final teams to go perform on the beach on this big stage,” she said. “It’s going to be a pretty hard goal, but I think we can do it.”

Partner stunting is one area she would like the squad to work on before nationals.

“We just really need to improve on team timing and just getting everything together and making our skills better,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll get more advanced.”