Cheer team takes sixth at Nationals


Courtesy of Oakland Cheer

Despite competition success by both teams, Oakland may be moving away from cheer and dance competitions to focus on the fans.

The Oakland University cheerleading team traveled to Daytona Beach, Florida, to compete in the National Cheerleaders Association Collegiate Nationals April 6-8. After two days of competition, the Golden Grizzlies earned sixth place.

“We were hoping to get a little bit higher than that, but we were definitely excited,” head coach Kara Krawiecki said. “We were really super excited when we made it to finals after the first preliminary competition.”

The preliminaries were held Thursday, April 6, while the finals were held Friday, April 7 at the Ocean Center. Oakland was put into the Intermediate Small Coed Division I category and competed against 14 other universities, including Kent State University and Florida International University.

Senior Alise Manatine said she had mixed feelings at the competition because it was the last time she performed with the cheer team.

“There’s definitely mixed feelings of happiness, anxiousness and even sadness knowing that it will be the last time I ever get to compete a routine with these people ever again,” Manatine said. “Right before I step on the mat, I have a feeling of pure happiness knowing that I get to show everyone how great my team is and how hard we’ve worked all year just for three minutes on the mat to perform.”

In the weeks leading up to nationals, the team faced a lot of obstacles, including members leaving the team or being injured two weeks before competition. In addition, this was Krawiecki’s first year coaching collegiate cheer. Despite all this, the Golden Grizzlies continued to push forward.

“I think the team did incredible this year with a new coaching staff and our first year competing as a small co-ed team,” junior Stephanie Gorham said. “We had several obstacles thrown our way. We faced them and still came out on top. As a third year on this team, I couldn’t be more proud.”

After receiving its results, the team members rented out a restaurant, dressed in their best attire and spent the night with celebrating with family and friends.

In addition to dinner, Oakland participated in Stunt Fest, an event where cheerleaders from different teams get together to perform different stunts and tumble.

While at the NCA Collegiate Nationals, the Golden Grizzlies learned about what to do the next time nationals come around. With this being Oakland’s first year competing and Krawiecki’s first year as a coach, there were a lot of things Krawiecki said that she wishes she had done differently.

“We’re going to start learning the routines that we’re going to be doing a lot earlier in the season and make sure we have a lot more people on the team next year,” Krawiecki said. ” . . . So, hopefully, we’ll have people as alternates to fill in if we have injuries.”

Krawiecki said, even though the team did well this year, the program will continue to improve in the years to come.

“I’m really happy that I’m coaching at Oakland, and I’m really excited for the future of the program,” she said. “We have definitely made a lot of great strides to the program this year, and we’re just going to keep rising higher in years to come.”