It’s finals day at the NCA College Cheerleading Nationals, with the top teams competing against the bandshell backdrop—the setting of some of the most iconic pictures in cheerleading history!
For collegiate cheerleaders, the chance to compete for themselves comes once a year. With their responsibilities as spirit leaders within their school, cheering on other sports and being proud ambassadors for their universities, this is the one moment that puts them in the spotlight.
With the Bandshell outside in the Florida sun with the smell of salt water from the beach just a step away, this competition is really like no other. There aren’t any stage lights or smoke machines, in a way, it’s like being on the sidelines during an early football game… sunshine on your face and you can literally see all the fans’ faces. The crowd… oh wow the crowd… it’s right there in front of you… a sea of cheerleaders cheering on cheerleaders! And, if you’re lucky, your family got to make the trip, too.
Stepping onto the floor for finals is emotional. For seniors, it’s usually the last time they’re going to cheer, ever. For rookies, the nerves can be overwhelming. And for the sophomores and juniors, being veterans and keeping the team’s nerves in check is a full-on job in addition to your routine. And no one knows if it’s pure adrenaline but the hard mats on the Bandshell feel like a spring floor! The energy, the vibe, it’s incomparable to anything you’ll ever experience in all-star or high school cheerleading.
In a few hours, teams will be running into the ocean to celebrate victories, whether that’s a first place, a flawless finals performance or the end of a season with your family. Some of the most enduring and venerated cheer legacies have competed on this hallowed ground, from UofL, SFA, HPU and Navarro, to TVCC, SHSU and CBU. Family lines that are decades old bring these college cheerleaders together for a lifetime, and we couldn’t be more excited to watch them be crowned!