Countdown to Georgia: Teams Wear Jerseys
Feb. 4, 2010
As they work to change views of their sport, the members of the Maryland competitive cheer team will don jerseys this weekend, instead of traditional cheer uniforms. Many of the other schools that have joined the Terps' cause will be wearing jerseys as well.
"Not only do the jerseys lean towards a more athletic look help differentiate our look from sideline cheerleaders they are functional for our meet," head coach Jarnell Bonds said. "The girls also seem more comfortable in their jersey outfits, they don't constrict their movement as much as the traditional uniform."
The jerseys are more functional because the athletes are awarded points throughout the rounds of the meet. At the end of the meet, athletes can be recognized for All-American status.
"It is exciting to see the team wearing a uniform that is specifically designed to meet the needs of the athlete during competition," assistant coach Laura Chiriaco said. "We are moving away from the traditional "skirt and shell" look of collegiate cheerleading and opting for a uniform that is both comfortable and conducive to the athleticism of the sport."
At first the change was one that was unfamiliar to many of the members of the Terrapin team. Now, the Terps are using this change as a way to change others' view of competitive cheer.
"The idea of not wearing skirts or bows was a little weird to all of us at first, but after we got our jerseys at practice a couple weeks ago, everyone's attitude changed. It was so empowering to see your name and number on the back of a uniform and I'm so proud to be able to represent Maryland with it on," senior Lauren Louis said.
"All the glitz and glam of cheerleading competitions is one of the major things other people use to invalidate our sport. These new jersey uniforms will really help to connect our team with the other 26 sports at this university, as well as make a statement to the rest of the country that competitive cheerleaders truly are athletes."
With changes to the competition format and now teams' uniforms, the Terrapins are proving to once again be leading the way for collegiate competitive cheer teams.
"It's really exciting to be a part of one of the pioneer teams in the NCSTA, and this weekend is going to set the stage for the future of collegiate competitive cheerleading," Louis said.
Feb. 3, 2010
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - As the Maryland competitive cheer team prepares for a different type of meet this weekend at the National Competitive Stunt and Tumbling Association's Inaugural Meet at Kennesaw State, the Terps are also preparing for a familiar part of competition - the traditional team routine.
On Friday night, the Terrapins will compete in a five-part competition with rounds being partner stunts, basket tosses, pyramid, and tumbling - all before the finale of it all - the team routine. Prior to this year, competitions revolved solely around a team's performance all together of one routine. The Terps and other collegiate teams around the country are adding to that basic competition model by adding four rounds of skill-based competition.
"Competing in the new NCSTA format is going to be different, but its also going to be very exciting as this is the first NCSTA meet that has ever been held. The new meet format gives us an opportunity to excel in individual aspects of a traditional cheerleading routine, so we each will be able to compete in what we do best on the team," junior Brittany Fonfara said. "I think the most exciting part of this new format is that we will go into each event knowing the exact point value of the skill we are performing, and we will also know exactly what we need to score to beat the competition."
"The new format gives us an opportunity to highlight individual competitors who may not normally get highlighted in a traditional routine. The traditional routine is a great snapshot of our overall ability but now we are able to really show off how athletic this sport really is," assistant coach Alexis Suter said.
A major advantage to reformatting competitions is that now competitors can perform and compete skills each one is skilled in. The coaches and administrators from the supporting schools worked hard to add to the traditional competition, not take away from it by losing the team routine. It will account for 40 percent of each team's total score, giving it the most weight of any event. Each other event is 15 percent of the score.
"Although the team routine is the most physically demanding component the NCSTA felt that it should be the last event, creating a grand finale effect. The speed and excitement of the team routine pleases spectators," head coach Jarnell Bonds said.
Because the most physically demanding and most intense part of the meet is the last event, the Terps have been hard at work over the last few months to prepare their bodies for the extra levels of competition.
"The girls have worked intensely with our strength and conditioning coaches Mike Szemborski and Jonathan Wang to train their endurance," Bonds said. "They are in the best shape I have ever seen them. Now, I believe that the competitive atmosphere that is created prior to the last event will actually help us going into the team routine."
Teams will know standings prior to the last event, so competitors will know exactly what scores they need in order to win.
Fonfara said, "Our team is all about making our competitive environment fun and exciting, so I think we will really excel at meets this year."
Feb. 2, 2010
This weekend the Maryland competitive cheer team will compete twice -Friday in the National Competitive Stunt and Tumbling Association's Inaugural meet at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga. and Saturday and Sunday in the Cheersport nationals competition in Atlanta.
Eight universities from across the United States have come together to form the NCSTA, which will act as the governing body and coaches association for competitive cheer's evolution into an NCAA emerging sport. The current members include the head coaches and administrators from Azusa Pacific, Baylor, Fairmont State, Fort Valley State, Maryland, Oregon, and Quinnipiac, in addition to the club team head coach at Ohio State.
The new meet format formed by the NCSTA asks athletes to compete in a five-round meet, as opposed to the usual team routine portion of a meet. The five rounds are partner stunts, basket tosses, pyramids, tumbling and finally, the traditional team routine. Because the skills involved in competitive cheer will be separated, it will allow for the teams and competitors to showcase new skills and events not included in a traditional routine.
"The five round meet structure allows our team to show strengths in the compulsory skills of competitive cheer. As a team we are very solid in this category and will do well with these skills," assistant coach Lura Fleece said.
"The events at the meets are really going to allow individuals on our team to excel in areas they are most strong at, which will be exciting to see new skills being performed that are not necessarily in our routine," sophomore Lauren Shannon said. "This past month we have put in a lot of time and effort at practice in preparation to compete in the new NCSTA competition format. We are all very excited for our first meet and are anxious to perform in the different events, along with competing in our team routine at the end of the meet."
On Friday night, the stunt group of Brittany Fonfara, Kaitlyn Letourneau, Karissa DePalma and Marina Rubbo, will be the first group of Terps to step foot on the mat in this new meet format. They are required to do a compulsory skill, then they will have 30 seconds for a stunt sequence that includes a release skill.
"Brittany is our most experienced flyer and I feel that she will be a strong lead stunt for us. Her execution will motivate the team and she has the ability to earn high scores for us early,"" head coach Jarnell Bonds said.
The basket toss round and the pyramid portion of the meet follow the partner stunt. The teams will take a short halftime session before moving on to the tumbling skills section.
"We have impeccable tumbling form combined with difficulty of skills that the girls are confident with. There are tumbling passes that we can do in this event that the athletes do not have the endurance to perform during the 2:30 team routine," Bonds said. "They have had these skills in their bag of tricks for years but the traditional competition always had the endurance and risk concerns with putting the skills on the floor."
One of the team's captains, Lauren Louis, will be one of the Terps' competitors in this event.
"I cannot wait to see strong competitors like Louis go head on with an athlete from another team. The intensity that she creates with her presence and leadership is unmatched, which is why she is opening our tumbling section with a duo pass where she is paired with Shannon," Bonds said.
"We are thrilled about the new meet format as it will give the opportunity for our athletes to be recognized both individually and as a team. We have some amazing talent on our team and I am looking forward for the chance to have them acknowledged for their athleticism," Fleece said.
At the end of the event, scores will be tallied to declare winners of events.
Shannon said, "I believe the talent on our team is really going to shine at this meet and it is going to boost our confidence as we enter Cheersport Nationals on Saturday and Sunday."