On Jan. 17, 2020 history was made for Missouri Southern in Orlando, Florida. Southern’s cheer squad competed in the UCA National Cheer and Dance Competition at Walt Disney’s Wide World of Sports for the first time in program history.
“It was so cool knowing upcoming cheerleaders will look up to me,” said Kaytelynn Doyle, freshman cheerleader and psychology major.
Missouri Southern Cheer took 11th out of 25 teams in game day routine, which includes cheer and stunts for leading a crowd, after making it to the final round. Competing in finals at this level is rare for teams making their first appearance at the competition, according to four-year coach, Aubrey Endicott.
The road to this success was not an easy one, according to Coach Aubrey Endicott. The squad started practicing for UCA Nationals following tryouts in April.
From there, the team had three weeks of summer practices, practices every day during the fall semester, and returned to campus a week before spring semester to get in a little extra time on the mat before heading off to competition during the first week of classes.
The most difficult part of preparing for Nationals, according to Katelynn Bosch, senior psychology major, was “going in blind and not knowing what to expect.”
At the competition, cheer and dance teams from all over the United States—Division 1, Division 2 and community colleges alike—made appearances and performed in hopes to take home the trophy. There were several divisions in which cheer teams could compete, including game day and routine.
In the game day competition, squads showcase their sideline cheers, chants, and stunts to get back to basics and show what cheer is truly about: getting the crowd involved, pumped up and excited. The squads are required to perform their fight song as part of the competition, which allows them to represent their school even further.
While at Disney, the squad was able to spend time with each other and grow very close to one another, which Bosch considered her favorite part of the trip.
The Magic Kingdom was closed to the public from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on one of the nights during the trip for the squads competing at UCA Nationals and they were able to have the park all to themselves and spend time with other teams and meet people from all over the nation.
According to Endicott, the team has plans to return to the competition every other year, with hopes of eventually going every year. She also hopes to ultimately begin competing in traditional routine competitions, advancing on their game day skills.
On their trip home, from an idea given to Endicott by a squad member’s mother, the team stopped at Ronald McDonald House in Memphis, Tennessee to visit a young cancer patient from the Joplin area that had previously attended a number of clinics hosted by MSSU Cheer.
“It was cool that we made effort to stop and see her,” said Doyle. “She was excited.”
The squad took gifts that they had bought at Disney, including a shirt and Frozen toy, and lifted her spirits.
Southern Cheer is hosting two upcoming cheer clinics. There will be a College Prep Clinic held in Leggett and Platt Athletic Center Feb. 1 for grades seventh and up, including current college students.
There is also a Lion Cub Cheer Clinic for grades kindergarten through sixth scheduled for Feb. 15 in the Residence Life Emergency Shelter on campus. The participants in this clinic will get a sneak peek at what a game day is like at Southern and will perform at halftime of the women’s basketball game against Missouri Western State University.
The chance to become part of Missouri Southern Cheer is coming up. The team will be holding two more open gyms Feb. 10 and Feb. 24 from 1-3p.m. in Leggett and Platt Athletic Center. Tryouts are to be held April 17-19 for the 2020-2021 season.