Cheer team clinches title
The Hofstra cheer team faced unfavorable odds at the Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) College Cheerleading National Championship in Orlando, Florida on Friday, Jan. 18, as they claimed their 11th national title in a new division for the first time.
Hofstra competed in the Game Day Open All Girl Division I, which assesses game day routines that are most commonly performed during football games. “What’s unique about this is Hofstra doesn’t have your typical game day. Our big game days are basketball events,” said Danielle Carpentieri, a senior athletic training major and four-year member of the Hofstra cheer team.
Despite not having a football program and competing against teams that perform game day routines every week at football games, Hofstra managed to come out on top. “That’s what was really cool about this experience. We were able to go into a division we were never in before and compete at something that we don’t typically do as a traditional game day,” Carpentieri said.
The fight song, timeout routine and offense/defense cheer are the three components that make up the game day performance category. When it comes to scoring, the two specific factors judges look at are crowd engagement and technique.
For the 25 girls that competed, this was an exciting feat, as the last national title Hofstra cheer claimed was in 2016. The team was up against 15 schools from across the country and secured wins against Tennessee Technological University, Widener University, University of Scranton and James Madison University.
After weeks of intense practice and preparation, the win served as a form of relief for assistant coach Matt Jones. “It’s excitement too, but at the end of the day it’s just a relief that we achieved the goal that we set out a month or two ago, even longer,” Jones said.
Jones, a former four-year Hofstra cheer team member, is in his 11th year coaching and has been with Hofstra for 10 of their 11 national titles. “Being that it’s a new division, it’s a great honor to add that to our resume at this university,” Jones said. Each of Hofstra’s previous titles have been in Small Coed Division I. The team goal is to take two titles next year in the Game Day Open All Girl Division and the Small Coed Division.
The girls attribute their success to their bond. “Everyone is so close. I could name everyone, and I can say that I have an individual bond with each person ... I think that helps so much,” said Kayla Scordo, a senior public relations major. This is Scordo’s second time earning a national title, as she competed for Hofstra when the team placed in 2016.
Jones believes the team’s first place success came from the energy they brought to the mats that day.
“The crowd seemed like they were really drawn in by it. [The team] sold it. They sold what they were doing,” Jones said. “They believed in it and I think you could really just tell that day that they were confident.”
“We were so driven and so motivated because we knew we could kick ass in this division. We just have this energy and the team connection is so strong,” Carpentieri said. “We cheer for each other at different parts of the routine and you really just kind of get lost in the moment because you’re having so much fun. The commentator asked us, ‘Where did that energy come from?’ And it’s really just the bond that we have with each other, knowing that our sister on the other side of the mat is going to do her job.”
Scordo said that coming into this division for the first time and winning was the most rewarding part of the day.
“When second place came around and it wasn’t us,” Scordo said, “it was just this indescribable feeling.”