The Weber State Spirit Squad will compete in the National Collegiate Cheer and Dance Competition in Daytona, Florida, on April 8.
“Competition season is literally putting in so many hours of work everyday just to compete once, maybe twice if you’re lucky,” said sophomore Ashley Tebbs. “When we do compete that one or two times, we have to leave it all on the mat. It’s not like basketball or football where you can win the next game to make up for the loss. There is no next time. It is all or nothing.”
The Spirit Squad has been preparing for this competition since early July.
The team performs at most home athletic events and travels to Reno, Nevada, for the Big Sky Conference Tournament, as well as St. Louis, Missouri, for the Men’s NCAA Tournament, just days before a competition.
In late March, the Spirit Squad traveled to Anaheim, California, where they took the first place title at the USA National Collegiate Competition. The stunt teams also clean swept the competition in the top five placings.
“Winning gave us a huge confidence boost,” said cheer captain Paul Thorpe. “At the beginning, we had confidence to get the drive and motivation to be the best. We strive to be the best on and off the mat. Not only pushing hard at practice but in school, the community and for each other. We have confidence that each person will do their very best.”
Being able to perform at a national competition is a milestone for the majority of cheerleaders.
“[Nationals] is so emotional,” said sophomore Chelsi Lee. “The ocean is to the left of the mat, and you are up on a huge stage doing what you love for people who have the same passion. They are all cheering for you, and the adrenaline is unreal. It gets me so pumped up, and it is seriously one of the most amazing feelings.”
Although this has been a challenging season for the Wildcat Spirit Squad, having each other’s backs has been the most important thing.
“The team itself has had ups and downs this year with injuries and personal problems, but the team has been there for each other every step of the way,” said Tebbs.
“We have a strong bond,” said Thorpe. “The most important thing is to [compete] for each other — for the family we have created, for the alumni, the university and our coach.”
Sophomore Amber Hartman said this year’s theme, “The Work is Worth It,” means “that even though the practices are long and tough, the feeling of accomplishment after you finish a perfect routine is worth all of the hours and hours of hard work.”
Head coach Summer Willis has offered her squad countless words of encouraging advice, but most importantly, she wants her squad to always remember to “do their very best, whether it is cheer or in their everyday lives. Do their very best in everything they do. Give it their all and never give up.”
Weber State will perform at approximately 2:20 p.m. EST (12:20 MST) at the Bandshell stage. To stream the National Collegiate Cheer and Dance competition live, visit varsity.tv.