By Cristiana Votta
With high stakes and a large reward waiting on the other side of competition, the Rider cheerleading team captured another title, making them back-to-back champions.
On April 5-7, the Broncs traveled to Ocean City, Md., to compete in the American Cheer and Dance Reach the Beach 2013 Nationals in the coed college division, which allows teams to have up to four male cheerleaders. The 20-member team competed with one goal in mind — to win a second championship.
Winning the title also ensured the Broncs a bid to the U.S. Finals, which take place at the end of the season.
The Broncs faced six other schools in their division including Penn State-Altoona, Cornell, Princeton, SUNY Brockport, and York. The team put in a large amount of time in order to get where they are today, according to Head Coach Cherie Voorhees.
“The dedication of the team is key,” she said. “It takes a lot of hard work in practice as well as sticking together and working together as a team. They cheer at the basketball games, and that really brings them together as a squad. They also put in a lot of extra time and practice outside of their season.”
The Broncs felt that winning the championship again and receiving a bid for the U.S. Finals was a perfect reward for all of their efforts and dedication.
“The feelings that hit all of us once we were announced national champs was overwhelming,” senior co-captain Kristen Terpstra said. “When they announced we had won, the feeling was such a relief. All of our hard work had paid off and the faith we kept alive throughout the season, given some struggles, brought us that one step closer we needed to winning.”
With the win, the Broncs are the 2013 American Cheer and Dance Reach the Beach national champions in the College Coed Division. Rider now qualifies for the U.S. Final’s with 1,600 other schools.
With their constant dedication to Rider athletics prevalent, they were happy to win another championship to prove themselves to the school.
“It’s really nice to be recognized,” Voorhees said. “They really put in a lot of energy and love for the school. I would like to see them continue to win and keep a strong program. Our first priority is to the teams and to our fans. We want to show our school spirit.”
Although the team has the postseason to work on its competition routines, time is limited as they concentrate on their performances for the athletic teams which is their main focus.
“I’m very proud of the team,” Voorhees said. “They’ve come such a long way. They have a lot packed into their season and don’t have the time to practice for competition all season long. They really do push to get a lot accomplished in a short period of time.”
Of course, a primary goal for the future is to keep winning, but the Broncs are looking forward to something different as well. It is Voorhees’ plan to get involved in an organization called STUNT next year. According to the program’s website, “STUNT removes the crowd-leading element and focuses on the technical and athletic components of cheer, including partner stunts, pyramids, basket tosses, group jumps and tumbling.”
“It gives cheerleaders who cheer in games an opportunity to go out and really show their athleticism in a competition arena,” Voorhees said. “It’s not the typical event you see with cheer and dance.”
Beyond competition, the cheerleaders were taught life skills that they will take with them after their cheering days end.
“I have learned so much in how to balance schoolwork and cheer as well as help keep the team together and make every practice productive,” Terpstra said. “I could not have done anything that I have learned or had such an amazing four years without my team and coach.”
Heading into the future, the team wants to keep up its successful ways.
“I want to continue to grow our athletic skills as a team,” Voorhees said. “There’s a difference between cheering in games and actually going out on the competition mats. What we do — stunting and tumbling — is a sport. We look to compete again and be as successful as we were being back-to-back national champs.”
With time being limited for practice, the Broncs felt confident about what they put on the floor for the 2012-13 season.
“The closest thing we have to competition is Midnight MAACness,” Voorhees said. “We go out and only have a few weeks to get that routine which is always a big challenge. For not having been on the competition mat at all, they did a phenomenal job.”
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