For the past several months, 16 members of the Pitt State Spirit Squad have thought of nothing but the UCA College Cheer National Championships, which take place from Jan. 18 to 22 in Orlando, Fla.
“That’s what it’s all about,” senior Jesse Pierce said. “You put in all of the practice, all of the time, and it’s all for that one shot. You work hard for three months to get ready for that two-minute performance in Orlando.”
The national championships feature cheer teams from across the nation, all hoping they brought the best two-minute, 30-second performance to the stage. Linda Graham, PSU cheer head coach, said she is proud of the work her team has put in leading up to this year’s competition.
“They were here practicing all through winter break,” Graham said. “They took four days off for the holidays, but other than that, our team has been in the studio practicing and preparing. I’m very proud of their efforts, and I feel great about our team as we gear up for nationals.”
The PSU cheer team has been invited to compete at nationals since 1995, Graham said. The Gorillas won first place in 2001.
This year’s team consists of nine men and seven women. John Rowe, assistant coach, said that while this year’s team is relatively young, it’s also full of hard workers.
“They have worked very, very hard on this from the moment we began,” Rowe said. “They continue to come together as a team, and they never give up on each other. I’m excited for them. This is a big moment for each of them, and I’m confident they’ll rise to meet it.”
Junior Lindsey Worley said while there are some nerves as the competition gets closer, the team’s overall emotion is excitement.
“We’re definitely more excited than we are nervous,” she said. “We all love to cheer at PSU games in front of our home crowds, but to get the chance to do it in front of thousands of people at the event and everyone watching on TV is a huge thrill.”
The competition will be broadcast on ESPN 2 on a date to be determined.