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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Heading to Daytona

Cheerleaders perform their competition routine in front of a crowd in Hagan Arena (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

Cheer team set for nationals

The St. Joe’s Cheer Team huddled together on a Sunday afternoon late last month before heading to a blue mat in the middle of the Hagan Arena gym.

Dressed in full uniform, the 17 women stood with their arms wrapped around each other as senior captains Keri Beukers and Franki Rudnesky offered the team words of encouragement.

“Cheerleading is a big mental game,” Beukers later explained. “You need to have the confidence to believe in yourself, so we go around, and we all encourage each other to believe in ourselves.”

Head coach Lauren Hanos ’04 said such encouragement is an important part of the sport.

“It’s really helpful mentally to know that even though you’re sometimes doing something individually or in a stunt group, everyone’s pulling around you and cheering for you,” Hanos said.

The March 25 “showcase,” as the team calls it, was an open practice to allow the team to perform their upcoming routine for the national cheerleading competition in front of their family and friends.

The team qualified for the National Cheer Association (NCA) and National Dance Association Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championship at the start of the school year after being evaluated on campus by NCA judges. The competition will take place April 4 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Fourteen teams will be competing in the cheer teams’ division this year.

Freshman Natalie Asselta will be attending nationals for the first time. She competed throughout high school, and is both nervous and excited for collegiate-level competition.

“It’s a cool experience,” Asselta said. “It’s competitive cheerleading, which is what I have been doing, but on a college level.”

The women have been practicing since September, with practices becoming more frequent leading up to their now daily practices.

“People think that all we do is go out during a basketball game, do one stunt, and then we are done,” Beukers said. “But behind the scenes we do lift training with the trainers, we’re practicing every day, and we’re putting so much into it.”

The Hawk cheerleaders have returned home with a second place trophy for the past three years and are more determined than ever to take home the national title, Beukers said.

“Being a senior with the three second place titles, it’s more exciting because I’m really driven to get that national title and help my team also be driven,” Beukers said.

It costs each team member $1,300 to attend the competition. When the cheer team travels with the basketball teams, the athletic department picks up the costs, but when the team chooses to participate in competitions they cover the costs themselves, Hanos said.

Team members are also partially responsible for the cost of uniforms.

Beukers said the cost is worth it because of the opportunity to make her team and coaches proud and because of the personal impact cheer has on her.

“I’ve been cheerleading for 12 years, so I really can’t picture my life not cheering,” Beukers said. “It shapes you into the person you are. I know I’ve gotten so many of my personality traits from cheerleading, like being a leader, being organized and the self-discipline aspect, that all comes from cheer.”

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