The University of Regina cheerleading team may be used to doing round-offs and high kicks to pump up crowds at the Rams games, but it might be time for their fellow students to shake some pompoms for them.
In December, the squad won their third national title in the small co-ed division at the Canadian National University Cheerleading Championship. They were sitting in second after their first run, behind provincial rival, the University of Saskatchewan, by five points. But after their second run they were 19 points ahead and captured first place.
“It’s something that doesn’t happen very often, coming up from behind,” explained head coach Thomas Rath. “We were able to tighten it up, avoid deductions, and gain some of those extra points back.”
The cheerleading program now has three national titles. The team won their first national title in 2010 – it was also Rath’s first full year as head coach.
“Hopefully, we can break the pattern next year and not get second and start a new pattern of win, win, win,” said Rath in regards to the team’s “curse” of placing second in 2009 and 2011.
Six members of this year’s crew were part of the 2010 team, along with cheer coach Janessa Rath, but to this date there is no record of anyone having three national titles to their name.
“I am hoping to give them that chance [next year],” Rath insisted.
So what has led to this success? Two things: commitment and competitiveness.
“This was an experience I didn’t think we were going to have for a few years within our program. It’s great that we had the opportunity this year, it is something I would never give up.” – Thomas Rath
Rath explains that as the program has grown over the years they have increased their practice hours and in return that commitment fuels their competitive nature.
“They strive to do better then what they do now, and constantly work hard to get to that final goal,” he said.
To top off all their hard work, they were approached to solely represent Canada at the ICU World University Cheerleading Championships in Orlando, Florida.
From Jan.18-20, the squad was able to showcase their Canadian talent to six other nations from all over the world. In their division they placed fourth out of five teams, barely missing the third spot by 0.9 per cent in scoring.
“We came close to beating a couple US teams, which is something we are really proud about,” said Rath.
Overall, the U of R athletes were able to come in third out of the six nations behind US and Puerto Rico, and beating out Japan, Mexico and the United Kingdom.
“This was an experience I didn’t think we were going to have for a few years within our program,” Rath said. “It’s great that we had the opportunity this year; it is something I would never give up.”
Rath and all 27 athletes on the team gained valuable knowledge, which they hope to use in their training for years to come. Although he wants to keep the Canadian style prominent in their choreography, he is open to trying new styles.
“We are probably going to come out with a really hybrid style. It will be something fresh and new to the Canadian scene,” he said.
The team will get to represent Canada again when they travel to California from Mar. 17-18 for the U.S.A. Collegiate Nationals.
The cheerleaders’ next competition is the URCC in Regina on Mar. 2, where they will get their annual chance to represent our school to teams from all across Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta.
“The URCC is close to everyone’s heart,” Rath said.
And in true school spirit fashion, Rath expressed great gratitude to the students and staff of the university for providing them with the support that helped them get where they are today.
Photo courtesy of newstalk980.com