ATHENS — The Concord University cheer team recently placed fifth in the nation at the Universal Cheerleaders Association’s 2007 College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship. The competition took place Jan. 12—14 at Disney World’s Wide World of Sports complex.

Concord competed in the All-Girl Division II category, which included NCAA/NAIA Division II schools as well as Junior Colleges and Community Colleges. Each team in this category was limited to 20 girls each.

This is the only competition in which the CU cheerleaders participate during the year. Concord has competed yearly at the National Level since 1997. The CU cheerleaders’ best placements were in 2001, when the team placed third, and in 2003, when they placed fifth. They have placed in the top 10 teams eight times.

In order to qualify for the competition, each team was required to submit a video tape of a cheer and a skills segment. The skills segment could not exceed 1 1/2 minutes and included tumbling, partner stunts, basket tosses, and pyramids. Concord’s team qualified for the semi-finals based on this taped entry.

The entire routine included sections in both music and cheering. The music portion was judged on stunting, tumbling, basket tosses, pyramids and dance. The cheer portion was judged on communication, motions, stunts and tumbling, and crowd effectiveness.

The squad’s coach, Lisa Blankenship, voiced her pride in the squad.

“We had a clean routine that set the pace for the rest of the teams that followed us,” she said.

Blankenship said that the team received support from many parents, family, and friends who accompanied the girls to Disney World. She also mentioned that none of the cheerleaders receive athletic scholarships; they volunteer their time completely. All members worked to raise funds to attend this competition. Concord’s Student Government Association and the Athletic Department also contributed money for the event.

The team returned to campus from Christmas break two weeks early to begin heavy preparation for the competition with two to three practices each day. When not training for the yearly competition, the Concord cheerleaders usually practice up to 2 1/2 hours three or four times a week. They cheer for football, and men’s and women's basketball, while periodically representing Concord at various events.

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