ROME – The Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees – what do these teams have in common?
Each has achieved one of the most rare feats in athletics in recent years – the three-peat, three straight championships in their respective sports, an accomplishment that confirms one’s sheer dominance.
This week, when Shorter University’s competitive cheerleading squads head south to Daytona Beach, Fla., for the 2011 NCA National Cheerleading Championships, the Cheer Hawks will attempt to join the rarified air shared by those aforementioned franchises by bringing home a third straight national championship.
“When we started the competitive cheer program three years ago, the idea that we would be in a position to win a third straight national championship was unimaginable,” said Shorter head coach Rachel Magness, who has quickly built the Cheer Hawks into one of the nation’s elite squads. “That we are in this unprecedented position bears witness to the amazing determination of our athletes, the incredible support we receive from the faculty, staff and students of Shorter University and the tremendous ways God has blessed the hard work and dedication of our program.”
Shorter’s Co-Ed squad, which won an NAIA regional championship at the Mid-South Invitational hosted by Shorter in February, will compete for an NAIA national championship for the first time.
The co-eds were a runner-up in the co-ed division in 2009 and placed fourth in 2010, but will test its might against fellow NAIA programs this time around, marking the first time ever that an NAIA specific national championship will be awarded at the NCA Championships.
Shorter’s co-ed group impressed in February by scoring a 330 out of a possible 363 points at the Mid-South Invitational to run away with the regional title.
The Cheer Hawks’ All-Girl team, which has captured the last two NCA All-Girl Intermediate II national titles, will vie for a third straight crown in the same division – the All-Girl squad also won an NAIA regional title at the Mid-South meet in February, but due to a lack of NAIA teams qualifying for nationals, will compete in the All-Girl Intermediate II for a third consecutive year.
The all-girl team has battled injury throughout the spring, but a revamped routine and renewed commitment has Magness excited about the possibilities in Daytona.
“Nothing brings out the willingness to go the extra mile like College Nationals Week in Daytona,” said Magness. “Nationals is the ultimate payoff for our cheer athletes, giving them the opportunity to transition from spirited sideline squad to national collegiate competitors.
“We are ready, excited and looking forward to representing Shorter University with some incredible performances at the largest cheer event in the country.”
In order to prepare, the Cheer Hawks will host “Hot Dogs for the Hawks” at the Winthrop-King Centre today, April 5 from 1:15 to 1:45 p.m.
Each squad will perform its national routine while the first 100 people through the door will get a free hot dog and drink to help enjoy the show.
Snacks and t-shirts will also be on sale as the teams participate in their final tune-up before the big show in Daytona.
“We are so excited about the opportunity to perform our routines one last time for our hometown crowd,” Magness said. “The support of our faculty, staff and student body means everything to us and will help instill the added confidence needed to bring home another national title.
“We are expecting a great turnout and invite everyone to come and be a part of the excitement that is Shorter University Cheerleading.”
The Band Shell, Ocean Center and Peabody Auditorium in Daytona will host the Championships on April 6-10. The Cheer Hawks will depart for Daytona on Tuesday evening.