On Thursday, January 17th, the Ole Miss spirit squads traveled to Orlando, Florida to take on UCA/UDA college nationals. We compete at this prestigious competition along with 9 other countries, 41 states, 255 teams, and 5500 competitors. Ole Miss brought 3 squads; co-ed, all-girl, and the Rebelettes (Ole Miss’s dance team). The all-girl squad consists of 20 girls on mat, the co-ed squad is 9 boys and 7 girls, and the Rebelettes team has more than 20 members. As for co-ed and all-girl, we competed in two different divisions: “Game Day” and regular competition routine. The Rebelettes competed in both Jazz and Pom. The championship is held at the Walt Disney World® Resort and is nationally televised on ESPN and ESPN2 to over 100 million homes in 32 countries nationwide.
The “Game Day” competition just began last year. Since we are Ole Miss and already have the most impressive game day atmosphere there is, we figured this competition would be perfect for us! It consists of a simulated football or basketball game experience (depending on the school and what sports programs they have/cheer for). Basically, an announcer will randomly call out a scenario of something that happens in a game, and the team must react accordingly as they would in real life. Within 3 minutes, you will perform your universities fight song, a cheer and a timeout routine to a band chant.
Last year, the Ole Miss all-girl squad made history and took home the gold at the first ever UCA College Game Day competition. This year, with even more teams hearing about the competition and joining in to compete, we performed alongside top tier universities and still placed 3rd, bringing home the bronze. Our all-girl team also competed in the partner stunt competition for the first time ever in school history. “Partner stunt” is one stunt group (4 girls) from each team that performs a series of flipping and spinning stunts within 1 minute. On Friday night, Ole Miss took home 4th place, even after competing with the team in Game Day; yet another historic accomplishment for Ole Miss All-Girl!
After a long day on Friday, we woke up Saturday morning to perform our competition routine for semi-finals. You must make it in the top 10 highest scoring teams in order to move on and compete in finals on Sunday. Competition routine is two minutes and thirty seconds straight of tumbling sequences, elite stunting, pyramids, and a cheer. This routine is very mental and requires a lot of endurance. This is mainly what we trained for two times a day, every day, five weeks straight in the Tad Pad (we only got 5 days off at Christmas!). Therefore, as they called our name when announcing who made it to finals, it was incredibly satisfying to know the hard work and time away from our families had all paid off. At finals on Sunday night, we finished 7th place in the nation in the D1A All Girl division, the first time ever being in the top 10.
To give a little background on the Ole Miss cheerleading program, there have always been two co-ed teams rather than one co-ed and one all-girl. My freshman year (2015), I got the opportunity to try out for the first ever all-girl squad at Ole Miss. We have only been competing at UCA Nationals for the past 3 years. There are three seniors, including me (top photo), who went from being first years and not competing at all, to being 7th in the nation our last year of school, and it was so bittersweet. It has been incredible to be there along the way and watch all-girl grow into what it is today. We have come insanely far to help build a solid foundation for future teams to continue the tradition. This program has made tremendous strides just in the past 4 years, and there is so much more to come!