By Danny Lovi, Staff Writer
The Hofstra Cheerleading Team is on top of the world once again, winning the Small Co-ed title for the fourth year in a row, and the sixth time in seven years. Lead by coach Christine Farina, the Pride traveled to Orlando in January to compete in the Universal Cheerleaders Association College Nationals, where they've won the past three years. This year was no different.
"We've built this program into being the best in the nation," said Farina. "When you put on that Hofstra cheer shirt, you represent the best of the best."
Hofstra's success is defined by the hard work, determination, and the time commitment that the young women and men put in on a daily basis.
"We are here seven days a week, twice a day," said senior Alison Sturchio. "We have two-a-days every single day up until nationals."
"There were a lot of new people, so we had to start over from the beginning and teach them everything," said junior Monique Hutton. "We'd practice from two until eleven o'clock every night."
This year's team had a number of fresh faces, including three new guys. Practices were more intense than usual as the newcomers became better accustomed to what was expected of them in this winning environment.
A huge difference in Hofstra's program and what makes The Pride different from the rest, is the family atmosphere Farina established here when she took over in 2003.
"It's about the family that we've built here, we're doing it for each other," said Farina. "There are no individuals on the mat."
"Team chemistry is really everything," said sophomore Dan Lewitt. "These girls put their lives in your hands, literally. They are going thirty feet up in the air and they got to trust you to catch them."
The team got a unique opportunity to improve its chemistry when it was asked to represent the United States in November, at the 2011 European Open Cheer Championship in Paris. The squad got to enjoy performances by cheer teams from around the world, including India, Norway and China. Hofstra also took home first place honors.
"To go to Paris was a dream," said sophomore John Thompson. "It was a once in a lifetime experience."
"We have to get better, we have to improve to get a national title," said Farina. "They took that away from the Paris trip."
The Pride took advantage of the opportunity in Paris, which helped propel them to yet another championship.
"It never gets old," said Farina. "To see them come so far from August to what they did in January. It's tremendous to watch as a coach."
The Hofstra cheerleading program has developed quite a reputation, and more and more students are eager to join the winning tradition. A lot of students come to Hofstra solely for the cheer team.
"There are girls in high school that know about us, their dream is to come to Hofstra to cheer," said Thompson. "It helps when you have a lot of rings on your finger."
What new students will find here is nothing new to the team. The family dynamic is what makes The Pride so successful and so consistent. Might as well call them The Hofstra Cheer Family.
"It's not just about your talents," said senior Brittany Schoenig. "It's about the sixteen brothers and sisters."