PCC Cheer Team Places 5th at Nationals
Pratt Community College’s Cheer team traveled to Daytona Beach, Fla. to compete in the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) College Nationals. The team received a bid to compete at Nationals from the NCA College Summer Camp they attended in July 2011. They were among over 240 cheer teams in 18 different divisions.
The team left for Florida on Wed., April 11 and had a full schedule once they arrived. On Thursday, the team had practice in the morning, and then had their actual warm-up at the competition site on the competition floor. At 2 p.m. they did their routine in front of the multiple judges and crowd. The team started with a 45 second cheer portion, and their routine lasted 2 minutes and 15 seconds.
“They did their routine really well,” Shayla Jacob, cheer coach, said. “They missed a few things, but that’s to be expected, with nerves and a different atmosphere.”
After performing, they had to wait for the scores to be announced, 7.775, and were given a DVD to watch and learn from their performance. Once the scores were released, PCC was in fifth place in the junior college division; the top three in each division automatically qualified for finals. All of teams within each division then performed again that night in the challenge cup, and the winner made finals. PCC placed second in the challenge cup, missing finals by one place.
On Friday, the team watched the finals teams compete.
“The kids were really excited to see the big, good schools, and see how they performed,” Jacob said. “The stage for finals is much bigger, and there is a lot more going on, a larger crowd, TV cameras all around, it is more intimidated, and it was good for the kids to see it for the first year so they know what to expect. The grand champion team of the whole competition was a junior college (Navarro College, Texas) and won the junior college division, so that shows how hard the competition in our division was.”
Saturday was a day for all of the teams to relax. There were mascot stunts and partner competitions and stunt-fest, which is put on by an outside organization and anyone can participate. Team members from all of the teams were able to stunt with each other; and were shoulder to shoulder throwing people and stunting.
“They have come a really long way, this process started last year, with working hard and getting better,” Jacob said. “They had this set goal in mind all year. They worked for it, and accomplished what they set out to do, which was make nationals. The kids were, for the most part, in charge of raising money to go. We had to do about $10,000 worth of fundraising. They had to not only put the hours in at practice and the weight room but they also had to raise money. But I think they did a great job. I am very proud of them and hope we can continue the success we have had.”
The team has put in a lot of hours of hard work and determination to qualify for nationals.
“The progression has gone from nothing at all, to Shayla coming in, the first year,” said Grant Gordon, Pratt sophomore. “She boosted everyone’s moral; I think the whole school saw a huge turnaround, which gave administration the reason to back our program, which helped everyone else encourage us too. She knows what she’s doing. Everyone’s encouragement helped a lot too. I hope that the program continues to get better. We’ve started out good, and we’ve just continued to get better. Shayla has already turned it around, and I hope she just keeps making it better, and really makes a name for the school.”
This was PCC’s first appearance at the NCA College Nationals, with hopes of returning again.
“I think every hire I have made so far has been really good, but when I hired Shayla Jacob, that might have been the best one yet.” Kurt McAfee, PCC Athletic Director, said. “She took over a cheer squad that was neglected and had no real tradition and in two short years has made one of the most unlikely turnarounds at Pratt Community College. We had no uniforms, very few kids with very limited experience and no budget and last week at the National Cheerleading Competition Shayla’ s squad finished 5th in the country, in our division. We now have the ability to build on the tradition that this year’s squad has established. I have people coming up to me in the street and at games telling me how much they enjoy the cheer squad and what a great enhancement to the ball games. I am really proud because many of these kids came here on blind faith that Shayla was a credible teacher and they could be part of the first class to rebuild the cheer squad and you know what? They did it.”
The Beaver Cheer Team was able to represent PCC in Florida, and made their hopes a reality.
“It went well at nations for our first time ever being there,” Saide Barba, Topeka sophomore, said. “We tried our best and it was a lot fun, just the experience itself. I am glad to be a part of the foundation of the program. It is going to get even better, and I was one of the people that started with the program. I see it getting really, really good.”
Members of the team were: Rylee Abernathey, Sadie Barba, Allie Cochran, Meghan Dalton, Alyssa Fisher, Katy Flickinger, Grant Gordon, Bailey Hefner, Andrew Heimann, Sara Hutchison, Chanaya Kerschner, Tyler Reed, Spencer Roe, Ashley Stockemer, Kody Struble and Harley Walker.