The cheerleading team, made an official Queens sport only in 2008, is performing in its first competition on the national scale: the Nationals Cheerleaders Association (NCA) Cheer and Dance Championship in Daytona Beach, Fla. The preliminaries of NCA in which Queens will be competing is April 12, while the final round will be on April 13. They are competing in the ‘Intermediate All-Girl Division II’ category.
“Whatever we do, we want it to be the very best that we can give,” said Head Coach Lori Townsend. Even though this is the team’s first time competing in NCA nationals, it won’t be the last, she added.
“The team made a commitment in August to push through and prepare for Nationals,” said Townsend. The Lady Royals have been working the entire school year to prepare for nationals. She has noticed how much effort the team is putting in during each practice, both mentally and physically.
“This team is more focused and driven than any other cheerleading team Queens has seen,” said Townsend.
With basketball season ending right before nationals start, the team has been busy preparing for games and competition.
“This year, the team decided to utilize time-outs as opportunities to practice some of our bigger stunts,” said Townsend. During the basketball game time outs, the cheer team would perform more advanced stunts with the blue safety mats.
Practicing these advanced stunts helped the team prepare for the nationals. “It’s an added pressure to succeed and focus on hitting the stunt when you’re in front of an audience,” Townsend said.
The basketball teams’ move to Grady Cole Center has given the cheer team more opportunities to practice during game. This has given the cheer team more room to perform bigger stunts than in the Oven.
The cheer team has a large impact on basketball, Townsend said. “Fans don’t realize the power that they have in controlling the atmosphere and momentum of a game, and we feel that it is our job to help navigate them through that by engaging them in sideline chants and performing exciting and dynamic routines.”
Being an alum to Queens has helped Townsend understand the history, traditions and purpose of the university. When the team wears the Queens uniform, she said they represent the face of the university and what it stands for.
The cheer team finished up “Clash of the Carolinas” inaugural competition on April 1. The Lady Royals earned second place in the All-Girl division and third overall, according to Townsend. That competition will rotate locations every year. “We look forward to hosting this competition in the Levine Center in the future,” said Townsend.
She credited Leah Beth Parsons, Patrick Motter and Chelsea Boham – all part of the coaching staff – for helping the cheer team reach its full potential.
NCA nationals will host a variety of different universities and junior colleges competing in both cheer and dance. The cheer and dance competitions are all group performances. Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) is a different national cheer competition but very similar to NCA.
The NCA Cheer and Dance Championship will be aired on national TV, according to CBS. The first airing of the competition will be on April 29 at noon. If you miss this airing, there will be a second showing on May 6 at noon. Both can be seen on the CBS Sports Network.