MU cheer to compete in NCA Collegiate Cheer Championship


Richard Crank

Marshall cheerleaders pose in a stunt before the men’s basketball game versus UTEP on Jan. 31 in the Cam Henderson Center.

The endless counts of “5, 6, 7, 8” and “1, 3, 5, 7, 9” runs through all of the Marshall University Cheerleaders heads as the team prepares to head south to the Sunshine State to compete in the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) Collegiate Cheer Championship in Daytona Beach, Florida, this week.

Last year, the Herd made history and placed third in the national competition. Since the 2000-2001 season, the team has competed in the national competition for the most part, said Jake Gilliam, head coach of the Marshall cheerleading team.

“It’s a big event,” Gilliam said. “There’s two brands under the college cheerleading, UCA and NCA, so our brand is a lot of different schools from different areas. We go against a lot of Division I schools. It’s dance and cheer.”

Gilliam said that there are multiple divisions at the two-to-three-day event. The Herd is competing on consecutive days, with the first day being preliminary run and a finals run. Afterwards, it will be placed in an advance D1-A Small Coed Division, which is what the team will compete in.

While at the event, there will be a mascot competition and a partner-stunt competition, in addition to the dance competition.

Sophomore cheerleader Chris VonScio joined the cheerleading program this year and is competing in his first NCA competition.

“I’m looking forward to showcasing our routine we’ve been working on all year and going down there (to Florida) with the team,” VonScio said. “Just all of us getting together and putting all our hard work in that we’ve been waiting for and spending a good week with my team.”

Freshman Meghan Tate is not on the competition team but is heading down south to participate in the competition as Marshall’s mascot, Marco. Incorporating a school’s mascot into a routine adds points to the team’s overall score.

“I’m super excited to be out there with my team,” Tate said. “Even though I’m not on the competition team, I’m still out there supporting and gaining my team more points. It’s just the best opportunity.”

VonScio and Tate both said their favorite part of being with the Herd is all the friends they have made and the people they have met.

Every year since Gilliam has been the coach, the Herd has moved up a ranking each year and is hopeful to move up to the top with this week’s performance. Gilliam is hopeful to place in the top-three category.

“Our ultimate goal is always just to hit the best routine that we can hit,” Gilliam said. “Hit all of our skills and make sure everybody has a good experience.”

Taylor Huddleston can be contacted at [email protected].