April 8-12, Grambling State University’s cheerleading team will be in Daytona Beach, Florida to represent themselves and the university at the National Cheerleading Association’s (NCA) College Nationals. Unlike their other outings this year, they won’t be there to cheer on the football team or even the basketball team. Instead, they will be competing against other collegiate squads, performing a high energy 2 minute and 30 second routine two days in a row.
Teams from across the United States travel to Florida to compete against the best, but it is not for everybody. Teams must first win a bid during the summer to participate in the competition. Grambling State put their impeccable sideline skills to the test receiving a Silver Game Day bid at the Oklahoma NCA camp this year.
When asked about the upcoming competition this week, Captain Travis Matthews said, “Being that we are a young team, in that only four of us have competed at Daytona before, I am most excited for the experience my team will gain by competing at this level and the time will spend together.”
Although Grambling has not won an NCA nationals yet, their participation in the competition has made them well known across the US, but especially has an HBCU. Grambling is one of a handful of a HBCU cheerleading teams that actually competes at sanctioned competitions. Many HBCU teams typically cheer at sporting events with their seasons typically concluding with basketball season.
At the NCA national level the pool of HBCU competitors gets even smaller, in fact, this year just two HBCU cheer teams will be competing alongside Grambling include Morgan State and Bethune-Cookman University.
The team’s performance this week will be their first performance in Daytona since the 2012-2013 season where they placed fourth. After some rebuilding, the team looks to Daytona by storm. With competitors such as Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, and University of Central Arkansas in their category; our cheerleaders have some stiff competition to face but they are feeling more than ready.
Junior Chonda Lawson said, “It was worth it to give up my spring break to be here and be with my team perfecting our routine so that we can go to nationals performing the best routine possible.”
With only 20 members of the 60 plus member team competing on the floor, the cheerleaders spent spring break breaking the routine down section by section to make sure it was not only cohesive, but clean and entertaining as well.