January 11, 2018 3:45PM
Football teams get 60. Basketball teams get 40. But for members of Pittsburg State University’s Spirit Squad, competition time isn’t measured in minutes — it’s measured in seconds: 150 seconds, to be exact.
“That’s the length of our routine,” said Linda Graham, PSU’s Spirit Squad coach. “It doesn’t sound like a lot of time, and really it isn’t, until you consider how much work goes into those 150 seconds. We’ve been in the practice room day and night since the first week of November. This team is focused on making every one of those seconds count.”
The Gorillas will put their routine to the test this weekend at the ESPN/UCA National Collegiate Cheerleading Championship in Orlando, Florida. Known simply as “Nationals” to competitors, it’s the moment every member of the squad has been working towards since they returned to campus last fall. That includes Team Captain Jarred Donnelson, who attended his first national competition in 2017.
“You don’t realize how big the sport of cheerleading is until you go to Nationals,” said Donnelson. “The arena is absolutely packed and the atmosphere is thrilling. That’s really the best way to describe it.”
Like every college team after a long season, the Spirit Squad has been forced to overcome injuries this season. But Graham said spirits are high heading into Saturday’s competition.
“We’ve had our share of setbacks,” said Graham. “In the last few weeks we’ve had a broken ankle, and a broken hand, but we’re a family. And like all families, we’ve held each other through the tough times. I feel pretty good about this year’s squad, and am looking forward to seeing it come together.”
The ESPN/UCA competition will take place on Friday and Saturday at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. It will be nationally televised on ESPN and ESPN2 to over 100 million homes and 32 countries nationwide. It also will be streamed live on Varsity TV on Varsity.com.