Georgia Northwestern In Televised National Collegiate Cheer Competition

The Georgia Northwestern Bobcats cheerleaders will take the mat at the NCA Nationals in Daytona Beach on Thursday morning. Georgia Northwestern is in their second year as a cheer program and qualified for nationals on their first attempt.
The Georgia Northwestern Bobcats cheerleaders will take the mat at the NCA Nationals in Daytona Beach on Thursday morning. Georgia Northwestern is in their second year as a cheer program and qualified for nationals on their first attempt.

(Rock Spring, GA) – Nearly two years’ worth of dreams and several months’ worth of practice is about to become reality for the Georgia Northwestern Cheer Cats.

After finding out in late January that they had qualified, Georgia Northwestern will make its National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) National Championship debut in Daytona Beach, Florida later this week.

The Cheer Cats will be the first team to take the beachside mats on Thursday morning (8:54 a.m.) to kick off competition in Co-Ed Intermediate Division II. The division is comprised of teams with one or males from Division II, Division III, NAIA, junior college and community college schools.

Georgia Northwestern earned a trip to Nationals after submitting a video entry that showed off their stunts, pyramids, tumbling, basket tosses and game day performances. Judges who watched and evaluated the video notified the squad that they had been selected as a qualifier on Jan. 28.

“We feel very fortunate,” said head coach Karen Stoker. “Last year, there were 21 teams in this division. This year, only nine qualified so we feel good just knowing that we were one of just nine (in the country) that qualified in our division.”

The Cheer Cats will first perform their 45-second game day routine before setting up for their 2:30 music routine. The teams with the top five scores will automatically advance to Friday’s finals with the rest of the squads coming back at 3 p.m. for the Challenge Cup. Those squads competing in the Challenge Cup will do their long routine once more with one team moving into the finals as sort of a wild card squad.

Only the game day routine scores carry over to the finals.

Sophomore Rhys Turner said she was excited, but also admitted to a case of nerves with the competition just a few days away.

“I’m really excited, but also very nervous,” she explained. “There’s going to be a lot of people there and performing in front of a big crowd gets me pumped up and gives me an adrenaline rush. But driving down there and waiting that first night in the hotel room and thinking about it is going to be nerve-wracking. Still, I’d love to go down there and take a big title back home with us.”

The squad has been practicing two or three days a week for two to three hours at a day to get ready for their NCA debut, plus doing individual work on their own at home to hone their skills.

“We’ve been working really hard and I expect us to do our best,” said fellow sophomore Alex Smith. “If we do that, I can live with the outcome. I’m feeling a little pressure, but we are the first squad (from Georgia Northwestern) to make it to Nationals so that has to count for something.”

The Cheer Cats breathed a sigh of relief this past week when the NCA granted them a special exemption to possibly compete with a squad of just nine members instead of the usually required 10-member minimum.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had an injury that we are trying to work around just in case we won’t have everyone available,” Stoker said. “But they all have done a good job of making those changes and not letting it get them down too much. We appreciate NCA for allowing us to compete with nine if it comes to that.”

Even with a full roster, Georgia Northwestern will likely have the smallest squad, in terms of numbers, that will perform in the entire competition. However, Stoker said this competition will be about quality, not quantity.

“We’ll be going up against some teams in our division that will have up to 20 (members),” she explained. “But it’s not how many you have up there, it’s how clean and how well you do the routine.”

The veteran cheerleading coach also admitted to feeling a little pressure of her own.

“There’s probably a little more pressure just because it’s the first time for us,” she added. “Next time we go (to Nationals), and the times that follow after that, I won’t be so nervous because I will know what to expect.”

Stoker said the team will stick around on Saturday to see other cheer events, like partner stunt and mascot competitions, as well as more “fun” activities like shopping and beach and pool time.

“But just getting to see all these squads perform up close, wow,” she continued. “And getting to meet all of them and develop relationships will be great.”

Stoker expressed her thanks to Georgia Northwestern, Athletic Director David Stephenson, cheer consultant Grant Magness and all of her squad members, coaches and parents for helping them reach this point.

For information on all Georgia Northwestern intercollegiate athletic programs, check out BobcatsCountry.com, e-mail GNTC Athletic Director David Stephenson at dstephenson@gntc.edu or GNTC Sports Information Director Scott Herpst at sherpst@gntc.edu. GNTC is a member of the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association (GCAA), NJCAA’s Region XVII, a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia, and an equal opportunity institute.

Georgia Northwestern Technical College serves Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Murray, Polk, Walker, and Whitfield counties in Georgia with campuses currently located in Floyd, Gordon, Polk, Walker, and Whitfield counties. Approximately 16,000 people benefit from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs, making it the largest college in Northwest Georgia and the fifth largest technical college in Georgia.