BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO)– South Dakota State University’s All-Girls Cheer Team was named national champions this week after their first season ever competing.
SDSU placed first out of four teams in their division.
The team consists of 19 girls, with 18 of them competing in the national competition.
Quiana Pardee, Head Coach, says they decided to compete this year kind of last minute.
“Varsity usually doesn’t give a virtual option, and since the pandemic, they did this year and we thought that was going to be the best way to start competing,” Pardee said. “It was great because we do have a lot of freshmen, so we didn’t want to overwhelm them.”
Pardee says competing at nationals really gave the team a purpose this year. This year, they were cheering from the stands and they didn’t attend camp or travel like they normally would. So the freshman, even now, doesn’t know what a normal season at SDSU looks like, she says. It gave the team an end goal and something to push themselves toward.
“I am just super happy that we got to compete and we got to make history,” Pardee said.
Pardee says she didn’t expect to win the national title with it being their first time competing.
“I am super thankful and super proud of those girls,” Pardee said. “We pretty much told them like ‘hey this is our first year, like we do have very high expectations just because we have all these people watching us, alumni, even athletics’. So we said ‘the biggest thing, like we just want to make sure that you’re enjoying what you’re doing and at the end of the day you’re proud of what you put on that mat’.”
Isabelle Maslosk, Assistant Coach, says this year is her first year coaching, returning after being a team member herself for four and a half years. She says there was more pressure this year than ever before because not only was it the team’s first year competing, but she had 19 girls that she wanted to lead to a successful outcome.
“Leading them to a successful victory like we did this year, it was better than any moment I’ve ever had on a team, being the coach instead,” Maslosk said.
The moments leading up to the awards announcement were anxiety filled, Maslosk said. On Tuesday, the coaches found out the results at 4:30 p.m. but had to wait until their awards banquet at 6 p.m. to tell their team.
They watched the awards ceremony together again as a team during their banquet.
KELOLAND News talked with some of the team captains about their experiences this year.
Competing was something the team had been considering and talking about for years, Maslosk says, but this year with the pandemic and stepping back from football and basketball games, it opened up their schedule and gave them the opportunity to devote that time to their competition routine.
“Honestly without the pandemic, we probably wouldn’t have had this opportunity,” Maslosk said. “Beyond that, it was a little bit cheaper for us to do it virtual and being a self-funded team, that’s huge for us.”
COVID-19 did bring on some challenges, Pardee says. The team was not able to stunt as much or practice as much, because of the restrictions of both the university and Brookings. This year, they were only practicing once a week for three hours, which is not enough time at all, she says. But, they are hoping to return to a more normal practice schedule, practicing at least two to three times per week for a longer period of time.
After taking first this year, Maslosk says they already feel the support from the community and they are even more excited to compete there next year.
Every year comes with its challenges, Maslosk says, and being able to add this competition gave them something for their athletes to look forward to. A lot of preparation went into preparing for the competition
The cheer seasons have overlapped this year, explained Maslosk, so the team has already begun their next season. They hosted try-outs last weekend and the team already saw girls coming in with amazing skills that they haven’t had before, she says.
The team is excited to go to the UCA college camp in the summer, Maslosk says, which is a requirement in order to go to nationals. It is a foundational time that shows the team members what it is like to cheer at a collegiate level.
Maslosk says from there, the team will be coming even harder than they ever have in a season.
“We are going to have to add some more things,” Maslosk said. “These girls are going to have to dedicate some more time to fundraising, to practices, to preparation, so really just making sure that all of those things pay off for them in the end, but that they see the reward and they feel the reward while they are in it.”
Normally, the team attends UCA college camp in the summer, Pardee says, so the girls can see other schools and this year they didn’t get to do that. Next year, the team will be traveling to Orlando to compete at college nationals in person.
Next year, the team will have hard competition because they divided the two divisions, Pardee says, but she is excited to see what they will be doing as a team next year.
The team shared their winning routine with KELOLAND News.