Cheer team preps to win gold

Roberto Campos

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The USI cheer team went to the Universal Cheerleading Association (UCA) National Championships this past January determined to come away with their first national championship but came up short placing second. This year the cheer team looks to take that lose and use it to propel them through the competition.


“We should have won last year, we had a much more proficient and clean routine than Columbus State, the team that beat us,” junior social science major Martin Deason said. “This year we are going to go down there with a chip on our shoulder and we are going to hit our routine perfectly. We are going to make sure there is no debate on who’s the best team this year.”

Columbus State, a college from Georgia, beat the USI Cheer Team by six points.

“It was really close, our routine had more difficulty and we hit our stuff, but so did they,” said Kendra Houghland, junior public relations and marketing major. “They beat us last year and they are our biggest competition this year.”

“Some people don’t understand how hard cheer is,” Houghland said. “We are always time restricted. People on top of being a part of the team work full time, go to school full time and are involved in things like sororities. It took us three days to make the routine which is a really short time.”

The cheer team preformed at Midnight Madness and are practicing for the UCA national competition.

“The Midnight Madness routine is kind of a watered down performance of what we do at UCA nationals competition,” junior business major Jessica Walters said. “Each of the tricks and stunts are harder for the competition.”

Aside from practicing for their nationals competition, the cheer team makes public appearances.

“We have to do public appearances, like cheering at basketball games, to show the university that we care about something besides ourselves,” Walters said. “They don’t get to see us compete at nationals so those are the only times that the university gets to see us. We have to show them we’re not a waste of time.”

In preparation for the nationals competition, the cheer team practices during winter break.

“They get a couple of days off, but they are back down here practicing on Dec. 27,” cheer team head coach John Stuteville said. “They’ll go from practicing three days a week to everyday until we leave for the competition. If it wasn’t for the commitment of the kids and what they sacrifice there is no way they would be able to be able to compete at the level that they do.”

For the team, the commitment is not an issue.

“It sucks because you can’t see your family, but we all love to do it,” Houghland said. “During winter break we are our own family.”

Under Stuteville, the USI cheer team has placed second twice at the UCA competition and third twice.

“They have all the capabilities to place first this year,” Stuteville said. “I don’t expect anything less than first if everything stays on course unless there is an injury.”

The team that competes at the UCA competition will consist of 16 cheerleaders: four guys and 12 girls.

“There is a lot of talent for how young of a team we are,” Deason said. “We have a much better chance of winning this year than we did last year.”