Last spring, the Pioneer cheer squad received its third consecutive national recognition at the 2012 Arnold Classic Cheerleading Competition in Columbus. Entering in the category of small-medium all-female college squad, the Pioneers earned the title of National Champions.
“It was a pretty competitive competition, there were a ton of teams,” said junior cheerleader Ashley Hess.
This competition is a part of the Arnold Sports Festival (http://www.arnoldsportsfestival.com/), which is a multisport event named after Arnold Schwarzenegger. The 2012 competition took place March first through the fourth.
The squad’s previous two titles came from competitions held by the Christian Cheerleader Association.
“Two years ago, we were National Champions in North Carolina…So that’s why, this year, we decided to stay away from that competition,” said Hess.
While the squad celebrated its victories and are extremely proud of its work, the Pioneer cheerleaders have made the decision to head in a different direction this year.
“So far, we’re not competing. We decided not to,” said senior cheerleader Elizabeth Hamlin.
Training for big competitions can be hard on a squad. This year, the team is operating without any captains, and this lack of student leadership would likely add to the natural stress and tension of competition.
“Cheering at games is really what I love,”Hamlin said. “I’m glad we’re really focused on that this year.”
During the weeks before classes began this fall, the squad was practicing twice a day.
“We practice off campus at a gym called NEO (http://www.neoallstars.com/)..it’s a 15 minute drive for us. We just don’t have any place on campus that’s sufficient,” Hess said. “It’s much better than practicing on the front lawn of Malone.”
“(The NEO) has a staff that can spot us for safety, which really helps,” Hamlin said.
Now that classes are in session the team practices one night a week. The Pioneer squad will be cheering for home Football games on Saturdays, home Basketball games a few times a week and the occasional away games.
[pullquote]We’re actually currently looking at cheering at the opening of a Cavs game,” Hess said. “But it’s still in the works.”[/pullquote]
“We’re doing a lot of community things this year, too,” Hess said, including cheer clinics and several fundraisers.
One such fundraiser may involve a trip to Cleveland.
“We’re actually currently looking at cheering at the opening of a Cavs game,” Hess said. “But it’s still in the works.”
The squad is excited about the year ahead and the all-around quality of its team. Not only do they have a lot of new and returning cheer talent, but the squad has also become a close community.
“There is, you know, that stereotype, but our squad just isn’t that stereotypical cheer squad,” Hamlin said. “We have really, really awesome girls. I feel comfortable with our squad…I love the community part of it.”