Disney World Brings Magic For Cougars

Christa Porasky and Brittany Lovette

Cougar cheerleaders placed fourth at the Universal Cheerleading Association National Championship in Orlando, Florida. Led by coaches Tara Sinclair and Courtney Coletti, the team managed to beat last year’s fifth place ranking.

The 20-girl squad  practiced hard to place at Nationals. Beginning in early August, the team attended the UCA Spirit and Safety Camp to prepare for their upcoming season and competitions.

“It took a long road to get there,” said Sinclair.

The Cougars began rigorously practicing their routine after football season ended . Conditioning twice a week, and even sometimes three times per day, the girls trained to prepare for their annual trip to Disney. They also added their own conditioning on days when they didn’t have practice.

Senior captain Amber Schmidt helped make all of the cheerleaders feel united as a team. Working alongside fellow senior Alyssa McEntee and junior Sarah Richard, she noticed that the squad practiced much harder than before.

“From my freshman year we didn’t condition as much, and this year we conditioned a lot, so it helped our bodies more, and we had practice four to five times a week,” she said. “And you just have to keep motivating them more.”

The cheerleaders cut their break short and began practice the weekend before the spring semester began. The girls began practicing their routine each night before taking off to Florida. When they arrived in Disney World, the girls completed one final practice before the preliminary round.

The team worked on their home mats to produce the crowd tape that helped them go into the competition with a perfect score. The crowd tape shows how well a team receives encouragement and involvement from the crowds for which they performs.

This is their second consecutive top-five finish. The team came in fourth place behind Avila University, Nassau Community College, and The College of New Jersey.

“I am very proud of my team. We have come a long way. We went through some rough patches, but we always dug ourselves out of it, and we showed it at nationals.”

The squad was also highlighted in the UCA recap video of the entire competition.

Sinclair, a Misericordia Alumni, has 12 years of experience in all levels of cheerleading and she is proud of the cheerleaders accomplishments.

“I have said this team is really young, so we had a large graduating class last year and then we had a couple of upperclassmen who, because of internships and clinicals and things, they couldn’t work it into their schedules because it is so demanding,” said Sinclair.

This year’s team consisted mostly of first year and sophomore students who had no collegiate-level experience.

“So for the ten of the twenty that were on the floor, it was their first time. And for some of these kids, they came from schools that don’t compete, so they had no background in it whatsoever, so we are really super excited, and I am very proud,” said Sinclair.

After spending so much time together, the girls say they have grown closer.  They are not only a squad of cheerleaders; they are family.

“Well, since it’s my senior year it was a very emotional experience, because it’s my last time stepping out on that blue mat, running through that castle with my sis.  like to call them my sisters because we are more than just teammates. We all help each other and it is very emotional for me,” said Schmidt.

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