Something to Cheer About: No. 2 in Year 1

Brenau's first-year cheer team at the national tournament
The Tigers first-year cheer team was full of surprises at the national tournament.

Brenau University’s newest Golden Tigers intercollegiate team set out to make a good impression during its inaugural season. Guess what? The team placed second in the nation in National Cheerleading Association Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championships competition in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Competing in the All-Girl intermediate division for smaller schools April 12-13, Brenau finished less than half a point behind the first-place Vikings from Ocean County College in Toms River, N.J. Others that competed in the category included teams from Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, Mass., The University of Texas at Dallas, and Queens University of Charlotte, N.C.

Although the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics sanctions the sport, it has yet to develop some of the infrastructure, including conferences and a championship series that surrounds the more traditional competitions like softball, tennis and soccer. NCA is a private company that, among other things, manages existing cheerleading competitions for college, university and high school teams around the nation. But it counts.

Not only were the Tigers performing at the championship level in their first year, but they also had to perform outside at Daytona. All previous competitions had been indoors. The Golden Tigers qualified for the competition through a video submission of the team’s tumbling, partner stunting, pyramids and basket tosses along with a 45-second piece of the team’s leading the crowd at a Brenau University basketball game.

At the tournament, “I could not have asked for a better performance – the definition of teamwork,” says Cheer Coach Krista Britt, who started the Brenau team a little more than a year ago with a handful of walk-on upper-class students and a group of talented first-year recruits. But, she adds, “the Tigers showed great teamwork, communication, mental preparedness and focus during the whole competition.” It was definitely the highlight of my coaching career.”

Ironically, the same weekend the Tigers competed in the NCA event Brenau President Ed Schrader attended a meeting of the NAIA president’s council in California advocating an NAIA-sanctioned tournament in the sport. “We’re very optimistic that there will be an NAIA national competition soon,” Schrader says. “This is one of the fastest-growing sports in the nation. At Brenau it is probably going to be our largest intercollegiate squad.”

That has proved true, at least in the volume of recruits. Britt announced in May that she had signed 14 new cheerleaders from around Georgia for the 2012-13 season – high achievers in academic and extracurricular activities. The cheer athletes include Erin Allison, Lindsay Paige Embrick, Alexis Odum, Kiersten Nicholson and Amber Wellborn from Gainesville.; Amanda Cantrell, Clermont; Kierra Herring, Jefferson; Erika Howell, Murrayville; Danielle Kibbe, Pendergrass; Sharonna Ray, Cordele; Michaela Shelnut and Ericka Trott, Cleveland; Danesha L. Troy, LaGrange; and Jordan Pittman, Montgomery, Ala.

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