College Dance Team Central

Friday, April 06, 2007

NC State Dance And Cheer Teams Head South For National Competition

After three finishes in the top 3 last year, the teams head back to Daytona Beach hoping for repeat performances of recent success

By Ryan Tice
The Technician

Reynolds Coliseum was abuzz with N.C. State fans Sunday night. The Wolfpack faithful were there to support the teams that are normally leading the cheers for the basketball and football squads.

Sunday night marked an annual event for the dance and cheerleading teams, as they held their dress rehearsal in preparation for the National Cheer and Dance competition this Thursday and Friday.

The mascots, who have their own competition at nationals, participated Sunday, and the cheerleading and dance teams welcomed the all-girls club cheer team for the first time.

"It brought in more fans, the turnout was great," senior coed cheerleader Jessica Brogden said of having the crowd at the dress rehearsal. "Having a crowd helps us out; it gives us a similar atmosphere to nationals. Normally we are performing at practice only in front of our coaches."

Last year coach Harold Trammel's coed cheer squad brought home national runner-up honors from Daytona Beach in the coed division. In addition, Mr. Wuf brought home a national title in the mascot competition. This year, Trammel expects more of the same to give the Pack its fifth national cheerleading title.

"The teams that have done well for [the University] are the ones that take the floor as a team," Trammel said. "Our team strength this year is performing as a team, instead of just going out there as a bunch of talented individuals."

The cheerleading team is not only going out to support itself and the University, though. While performing on the mat, each will have women's head basketball coach Kay Yow on their hearts and a pink shoelace on their left shoe in support of her latest battle with cancer.

After double checking the rule book, the team decided the shoelace was going to become part of its uniform on perhaps its biggest stage.

"We needed to show our support for her because she's been so great for us and the school," junior Mike Hudak said. "We want to show how thankful we are to her. She's a big deal, and we will be wearing [the shoelaces] and supporting Coach Yow proudly in Daytona."

This year, the cheer team is younger, according to Brogden, but also better.

"There [are] not many older kids; there is less experience," she said. "Normally, that would be a weakness, but it's really not because we have so much talent."

The dance team that took third in the national competition last year is also improved, according to coach Erika Holmes. Holmes expects nothing less than a repeat of last year's finish from her team.

"Our strength as a team this year is our technical skill, and that is what is needed to win," Holmes said. "We have definitely improved since last year. We are able to have more of our team doing the same skills instead of breaking things off. Every girl on the floor can do everything I need them to."

While the whole dance team gets to travel down to Daytona, only 14 team members are taking part in the competition. In contrast, most teams will compete up to 18 dancers, according to Holmes, but she doesn't see that as a problem.

"I prefer to have quality over quantity, " she said. "We are only as strong as our weakest link."

This is the only competition for all three teams and the mascot, so there is added pressure, both coaches agreed.

"As soon as we push play, that's it. There's no timeouts. There's no subbing people in, no seeing who you're matched up against," Trammel said. "This is our one chance to cheer for ourselves."

Holmes agreed and said hosting Sunday's dress rehearsal was a way to see who can perform under the pressure. "In front of a crowd is when I can tell if someone needs help in a section. I can see their skills under pressure," she said.

Brogden said fans can expect a strong showing from all teams in Daytona.

"We can absolutely finish better than last year. Last year we took second, and we had a drop. This year, we aren't going to let anything keep us down," Brogden said. "We are going to go out there and put it all on the mat."