MSU Cheer wins third at the UCA College Cheerleading National Championship


MSU Cheer celebrates winning 3rd place in the 2022 UCA College Nationals in Orlando, Florida, Jan. 14. Photo courtesy of Collin Stokes.

The MSU Cheer team took the mat on Friday, Jan. 14, in Orlando, Florida, at the UCA College Cheerleading National Championship. The team was able to place third in the Open Co-Ed Game Division. Head Coach, Collin Stokes, said the team did well this year, especially since last year, the national competition was held virtually.

“I think the team did an amazing job this year. It was a returning year for ‘Live & In-Person’ competition, after last year’s virtual competitive experience due to COVID-19. I was extremely proud of the hard work our team did as they faced many teams from larger universities, from the D1 level in the Open Coed Game Day Competitive Division…being able to return to the UCA College Nationals was both exciting and nerve-racking. Our team had only five returning members that had ever competed in-person at a national’s competition,” Stokes said.

Stokes said that there is only one time a year where teams get the ability to participate in the national championship. She also said that though making finals is tough, making it into the top three is even tougher.

“What most people don’t know is that for college cheerleading nationals, we get one shot for the year. We work all year for one performance. Making finals is tough. Making top three in the nation is even tougher. Placing third in the nation was an overwhelming feeling that cannot be described…my favorite part about this year’s team is their strong bond. We call ourselves a family and that is exactly what we are. Plus, this competitive experience comes with the addition of college memories and friendships that will last a lifetime,” Stokes said.

Cheer captain, DanLee Duncan, has participated in every national competition since being a member of MSU Cheer. Duncan, a kinesiology and English senior, said that the team pushed their bodies to their absolute limit this year.

“We competed with some of the best, even some of the strongest D1 schools, knowing the strong competition we had, I am so proud of how we did. We pushed our bodies to their absolute limit…we had so many injuries, from busted faces and torn ligaments to a broken foot right before competing, and we were still able to compete and be successful. My favorite memories at Disney this year had to be how well-known our cheer program actually is. We had other universities meeting us just to chat. There were friends I have from the UCA Staff that were excited to watch us compete and individuals showing support from so many different social media platforms, ” Duncan said.

Jose Flores, physical education sophomore, is one of the 12 new members on the team. Flores had no cheer experience before becoming an MSU cheerleader.

“August 25 of last year was the first time I ever cheered. I joined because of Hector, he had been playing about me joining then one day he told me a few guys had left so he told me there was a need. Being a part of cheer was 10 times more difficult than I thought it would be,” Flores said.

Flores’ favorite part of Disney was the very first time the team performed. He said making it to the finals was a relief.

“Game Day was my favorite. The first time we did it, we were all just so nervous and some of us were even crying. Making it to finals was such a relief and that was going up against D1 schools as well,” Flores said.

General business senior, Jordan Gomez, is a fifth-year member of MSU Cheer and said that this season has been a blessing. She is extremely proud of her team, considering many members have never competed at a collegiate competition before.

“This season was a surprise season for me. I was supposed to graduate in August so I didn’t think this season would’ve even happened. They canceled one of my classes, putting me to graduate in December, so this season has been such a blessing. I got to have one last experience performing in Orlando with my team. The energy and determination was amazing. Most of the team had never competed before and some have never actually competed at Disney at UCA because last year we had to compete virtually. My favorite memory was definitely during our game day routine. Everyone on our team gets to be on the mat and we all have that same experience being out there,” Gomez said.

MSU Cheer performs its routine as they compete with other universities at the 2022 Universal Cheerleaders Association College Nationals, Jan. 14. Photo courtesy of Collin Stokes.
MSU Cheer performs its routine as they compete with other universities at the 2022 Universal Cheerleaders Association College Nationals, Jan. 14. Photo courtesy of Collin Stokes.