The Drury cheerleading squad is headed to sunny Orlando, Fla. this week, competing in the UCA College Nationals. This is nothing new for the Panthers as they’ve participated four of the past five years.
“I love the competition,” said sophomore Shelby Moore, a Nixa native. “I like the adrenaline you get, the rush, and how you work months and months for a three minute performance. You just go out on the mat and give it your all. That feeling when you walk off the mat and know you gave it your best is the best feeling in the world.”
“You put in so much work and hours, but it’s so worth it,” said sophomore Kaela Watson, a Clever native. “It’s a really good feeling.”
Each team gets three minutes which includes a cheer and music portion. If Drury finishes in the top five Saturday morning they will perform again Saturday night for finals. The next day they compete in the ICU World Championships.
This is the first trip to nationals for several members of this year’s squad, but for graduate student Cody Stepp it’s another shot at winning it all after competing two years ago.
“I kind of walked away with a passion for cheerleading, and I wanted to come back and be better and show them what Drury’s got,” said Stepp, who took up cheerleading in college after graduating from Bolivar High School.
When the squad returns next week they’ll begin another exciting venture, becoming the first school in Missouri to compete in STUNT, which 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.
“We to head-to-head against other schools doing the exact same routine,” said STUNT coach Bre Corbett. “There’s a referee, time limits, jersey numbers and everything.”
The squad has 29 members, many of which cheered at Southwest Missouri high schools prior to Drury.
The trip to nationals was partially funded by the Drury Cheer budget, but the rest was raised by the team. If you’re interested in donating email firstname.lastname@example.org.