Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Southeast cheerleaders take on first National Cheer Association competition

Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Submitted photo by Billy Hayes.

This year marked the first time Southeast’s cheerleaders competed at the National Cheer Association (NCA) National Championship at Daytona Beach, Florida. To get a bid for nationals, the cheer squad attended a three-day camp at the University of Louisville where they learned new material that they performed at the end of the the session. Along with five other nationally ranked teams, Southeast was invited to compete in the competition April 5 to 7 against 300 other qualifying teams.

Former All-Star coach at Athlete’s Plus’ gym, Billy Hayes, wanted to raise Southeast’s standards to a higher level during his first year as head coach.

“I wanted to change the idea of what cheerleading was, to what it is now,” Hayes said.

He wanted his team to prove they were more than sideline performers at Southeast’s football and basketball games. He challenged them mentally and physically by entering them in their first traveling competition in Kentucky, which lead to the national championships, where Southeast placed 12th out of 17 teams in its division.

“It is important to show our more athletic side, and that we can be just as competitive as the football and basketball teams,” Hayes said, “I also think it speaks volumes that we did not get last place on our first trip to nationals.”

Hayes said he believes it was good for his team to see other collegiate squads in action and his team learned what it takes to compete at a higher level.

“Seeing other teams competing made my team realize that cheering in high school was easy,” Hayes said, “from now, I will raise the caliber on everything we used to do in practice.”

He knows that competing for a national championship will take more mental and physical strength.

“Preparation for next season began as soon as we got back home,” Hayes said, “I want my girls to be addicted to cheerleading.”

He said when people get addicted, they do everything in their power to get better, and in this case it involves tumbling and stunting outside of the season. Hayes said he believes after this experience, his squad will be even more excited for next season.