Hip hip hooray for pride of NCAA
By Alex Chiang
Call it a difference in culture, but cheerleading is hardly a religion in Canada. After smoking the competition for its 12th consecutive CIAU title, Western's pep squad will head south of the 49th parallel next Wednesday in search more worthy adversaries.
"We've won the Canadian's for so many years so it's good to compete against teams of our own calibre," team veteran Amy Newell said. "It makes us work that much harder."
In 1995 the Mustangs showed that they can compete with North America's best when they won the United Performance Association U.S. National Championships. Last year the Mustang team skipped the meet because of financial considerations, but are determined to win back the honour.
"We want to recapture the title," cheerleader Steve Groat said.
Approximately 80 teams comprised of NCAA and high school teams will congregate in Minnesota to see who can perform the best pyramids, basket-tosses and other ingenious bodily formations.
"We excel in the technical aspect since we do very hard stuff," Western coach David Lee Tracy said. "Last time we were down there we scored great artistically so that'll be the key to a good overall score."
The Mustang contingent is comprised of 13 male and seven female members, a rare makeup according to Tracy.
"Many people down south are surprised at the way our team's built," he said. "It gives us an advantage and more flexibility in terms of what we can do."
In addition to the technical and artistic aspects, the panel of six judges will look for enthusiasm, volume, creativity and overall impression.
The defending champion, University of Iowa, will not be present to defend their title and as a result, Western's toughest competition should come from the hometown universities of Wisconsin and Minnesota. The rest of the entrants are a mystery.
"It's hard when you don't know what to expect," Groat said. "You don't know how much to push yourself."
In preparation for the event, the Mustangs are on a hectic five-day-a-week practice schedule that includes appearances at all of Western's home basketball games. "Ordinarily this time of year we would only practice once other than during the basketball games," Tracy said. "Some people are starting to get sore, but we want to go into the meet hot."
Financially the team is just short of their $11,000 fund-raising goal. Thus far, $8,500 have been collected in addition to many promises for more money.
"Hopefully the people who have said yes to our request will come through," Tracy said. "People have been more responsive this time around, probably because we won last time we went down there."