The Sam Houston State University Spirit Programs successfully took home more national titles at the NCA/NDA Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championships last weekend in Daytona Beach, Florida.
The Orange Pride dance team won first place for the fourth consecutive year, Co-Ed cheer squad took home their second consecutive Division-1 National Championship and the All-Girl cheer team won second place in Divison-1 at the competition.
Out of the five years the dance team Orange Pride has competed in National Dance Alliance (NDA), they’ve received first place in the past four, becoming the first team to win more than two consecutive titles in the Division-1 Open Dance category.
This year was the biggest competition Orange Pride has seen. The 15 team members who competed performed a jazz dance to a remake of “Sweet Dreams” and got first place in the Open Dance I division with a score of 9.678 out of 10, beating out 20 other teams in their division for the national title.
“In 2 minutes and 15 seconds we had to prove to the judges why we won for the last three years, why we were in first going into finals, how bad we wanted it this year and that no one wanted it as much as we did,” Orange Pride captain Everest Guerra said. “After our final performance we were all more than happy with how we did and that it was finally over.”
Orange Pride learned their routine in October and spent seven months cleaning and perfecting the dance for the competition. The team also practiced four to five days a week, three to eight hours a night to prepare for nationals while balancing football and basketball games/tournaments, pep rallies and maintaining a 2.5 grade point average as well as a positive attitude, Guerra said.
“We did all we could to prepare for nationals with the help of each other and our choreographer who we are so very thankful for,” Guerra said. “We worked all year for this moment and we were not going to let anyone take away our title. Something we would say every practice is, ‘When you feel like you can’t give any more, fight it and push harder. Do it for the person next to you.'”
Orange Pride overcame the sudden resignation of its coach, Sarah Knigge Pritchard, who quit midyear and left it up to the team to take the national title for the fourth time, Jaredd Martin, sophomore Orange Pride member said.
“With the support of our fellow Bearkats and the rest of the spirit program we pulled through and got first,” Martin said.
Fifteen of the Orange Pride team members competed, 11 of which were competing for their last time.
“After getting off stage it was pretty emotional for everyone because we had 11 seniors on the nationals floor, but it was a feeling I can’t even describe,” freshman Orange Pride member Natalie Nunez said. “We were all so happy with what we had done that the result didn’t even matter at that point.”
Orange Pride’s biggest competition at the National Dance Alliance was Utah Valley.
“Because of our hard work and, above all, our immense desire to succeed, we beat Utah Valley, proving to them that Orange Pride has the heart and drive to do anything we aspire to,” Martin said.
News of all the spirit squad’s success has spread across campus and has gained the squad’s recognition as the team to beat at NCA/NDA Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championships.
University President Dana Gibson tweeted Friday, “HUGE congratulations to Orange Pride and the Co-ed Cheer on winning 1st at Nationals!” and “Congratulations to all girl cheer on their 2nd place finish!”