N. C. A&T’s Cheer Team claims First Grand National title

N.+C.+A%26T%E2%80%99s+Cheer+Team+claims+First+Grand+National+title

Sydney Ross and Ameer Robertson

Last weekend, history was made as N.C. A&T’s cheerleading team won first place at the Cheer LTD Nationals in the girls advanced division at CANAM cheer competition in Myrtle Beach, S.C. This is the first time the Aggies competed in a national competition and took the city by storm. 

However, their journey to nationals was not easy. Alivia Barrow, sophomore chemical engineering student and rookie team member says that everything they had worked on this season led to this moment. 

“We had been preparing for this competition since we made the team,” Barrow said. 

Though only in her second year on the team, Barrow has been cheering since the age of three; however, this competition was like none other competition she experienced. 

She describes walking into the competition feeling like there was a target already on the team’s back since not many HBCUs are known to compete in this style of cheer. Nonetheless, Barrow and her teammates prepared themselves to do their best and give it their all once they hit the floor. 

Up until this point, the highest competition that the cheer team has competed in was at an intermediate level against other HBCUs within the MEAC. Head Coach Daniel Kearns-Pickett or “Coach Dani” to the cheer team says the girls worked and made a statement this weekend at the competition. 

“This year’s team definitely set the standard for the future of N.C. A&T cheer teams,” Kearns- Pickett said.

This year is Coach Dani’s first year with the university, and when he is not coaching he is working full time at an elementary school as a mental health counselor. Having a rather difficult start to the season, this win to him meant everything. 

“When I got this position in August, we were behind,” Kearns-Pickett said. “It’s been a bunch of ups and downs, but through all [of] that we got through it.”

On the day of the competition, nerves were everywhere for the team. Coach Dani prepared the team by playing gospel music and having each of them close their eyes and visualize themselves performing their routine and then had them imagine how they saw themselves after performing. With their eyes still closed, each cheerleader shared with one another what they feared the most that day.

“I know this is my last competition,”  said Nyla Jones, a senior accounting student, and co-captain of the N.C. A&T cheer team. “I was the only senior on the mat, so I know that each girl on the mat besides me has a chance to come back and do this again, but I knew that for me this was my last and only chance to be a national champion in cheerleading.”

In addition, they also had the opportunity to go around and share what they were most grateful for during the season. They reflected on their journey together as they have sacrificed so much of their free time to get to this point.

“I am very proud of my team and how far we came this season. I know each girl worked hard. We have sacrificed a lot, we missed a lot of school events and at-home events, we are always tired, so I am very proud of them, and I can not wait to see them cheer next year,” Jones said.

This win is only the beginning for N. C. A&T’s cheer program. Kearns-Pickett hopes to continue to raise the standards and prove that they too are important not just in the campus community but also in the cheer community as a whole. 

“We have a motto that’s ‘Better Than Yesterday’. No matter what we are doing the goal is to be better than yesterday,” Kearns-Pickett said. “If we can have that mindset with everything that we do there is no way that we can fail, and I feel like they really took that in and put that on the mat in competition.” 

If interested in being a part of the 2022-2023 cheerleading team at N.C. A&T:

  • Go to ncatcheer on Instagram 
  • Click the link in their bio
  • Click the menu button
  • Scroll down to ”Tryout Information 22-23”
  • Submit the form required by April 1st