Story by Valentina Garcia, News Editor
Courtesy of Facebook.com/Aquinas College Cheerleading
The Aquinas College Cheerleading team is growing and excelling. This year’s team is the largest Head Coach Amy Jacobson has experienced and it is making records in AQ Cheer program history — but it remains as united as it was three years ago when Jacobson accepted the head coach title with 10 student-athletes.
With a team of 30 cheerleaders, Jacobson was concerned about the impact on team dynamics. But the large group, despite students’ varying schedules, became just as close as the smaller groups Jacobson had coached in the past.
“I think just coming together as a whole program was a huge goal that they accomplished this year,” Jacobson said.
The competition season plays an important role in strengthening the team’s unity. First-year student Amaya Morrow’s favorite memory of the season was a dance party the team had before competing in the WHAC championship. This was also a season highlight for Senior Anna Cecchini.
“I feel like it was one of the few times we’ve all bonded together and had a really fun time before we all had to die on the mat,” Cecchini said.
The environment formed by moments like these is important to Morrow and has her resolved on continuing with the cheer team.
There are many newcomers on the team, which also impacted team dynamics. “There are a couple of people who have never done some of the things we’re doing in routine,” Senior Nora Botello said. She added that they have had to work hard to learn new things — but it is paying off.
“We have a newer team, a lot of newcomers to this team, and we went really far in building our skills and progressing and getting them to compete at a collegiate level,” Jacobson said. “And we were able to take home two first place wins in our duels, and then we placed top three at every other competition since then, so it’s really cool to see that happen for such a young team.”
Emily Sapak, a senior, is excited about the team’s current season and its future. “Out of my four years on the team, skill-wise, this has probably been one of the best years. So it’s just really exciting to see. And a lot of our teammates are freshmen and they are younger than us, so seeing that fresh talent coming in and how hard they are willing to work just really makes me excited to see what’s to come,” Sapak said.
The Aquinas Cheerleading team took fifth place at the NAIA Northeast Regional Qualifying Competition on Saturday, Feb. 23. Their routine earned them their highest score in program history, 81.12, and a spot to the NAIA National Championship which will take place in Iowa from March 8-9. Their participation in the NAIA Nationals is also a first in program history.
The team’s success comes after the harsh winter weather which disrupted their normal practice schedule. “They are really well conditioned and they know what they’re doing and I have a really good group of veterans that was able to come back still as strong as ever even after the break from snow days,” Jacobson said.