Keene State cheerleaders finish third at National Cheerleading Association Camp
KEENE, N.H. 8/17/12 – Members of Keene State College fall athletic teams aren’t expected back on campus until Sunday. However, that didn’t stop one Owl winter team from getting a jump on their fall counterparts.
The Keene State cheerleading team returned to campus a couple of weeks ago for a summer training camp that culminated with a National Cheerleading Association (NCA) competition at Boston University on Sat., August 4th. There was a lot on the line for Owls, who finished third at the competition, earning a bronze bid to the National Cheerleading Championships which will be held next April in Daytona Beach, Fla. The bronze bid gives the team a major discount when they register for the championship.
Keene State, which competed in the Division III all-girl (large group) category, went up against 16 teams, including six of the top-10 squads from last year’s championship. “I was ecstatic with the teams’ performance and getting a third place finish,” said Kevin Thompson, Keene State’s second-year coach. “They showed that they were able to compete with the top teams in our division and also gave the girls a chance to see what they need to do to improve so they can beat those teams in Daytona.”
The Owls finished behind Montclair (N.J.) State University and Elmira (N.Y.) College, which finished second at last year’s national championship.
The late arrival of Thompson had the Keene State cheerleading team playing catch-up all last season. “We started the season on time this year,” said Breanna Vacca, a junior captain from Medway, Mass. “We’re definitely more prepared. Everybody got to know each other before we left for the camp at Boston University. We were a team. Last year, it was hard to work with each other because we didn’t know each other.”
Familiarity breeds success. The return of 14 cheerleaders from last year’s team coupled with Thompson having a year under his belt proved to be a winning combination for the Owls. The team also added four talented freshmen. “Unlike last season, we were able to hit the ground running,” said Thompson.
The Owls spent three days in Keene preparing for the camp. Two-a-day workouts included strenuous conditioning, team bonding and ultimately a rousing routine that made the judges stand-up and take notice.
“The three days in Keene were tough, but just what we needed,” said super senior Kayla Chase from Goffstown, N.H., who returns for her fifth season with the team. “We already learned to do more this season than we did all last year.”
During the first two days of the camp at Boston University, teams learned new building skills, game cheers and chants. The final day was reserved for the competition. Competing in the “Game Day” competition the Owls didn’t hold back, showcasing their talent and skill with study pyramids, terrific tumbling and dynamic dance moves to earn their third-place finish.
Thompson hopes that the team’s strong finish sets the stage for big season for his team. “I think we’re going to have a fantastic year,’ said Thompson. “I can already tell these kids are very motivated and ready to go.”
“It just goes to show what you can do with hard work and determination,” said Vacca. “We were only together for three days before camp and we accomplished so much. I can only imagine how good we can become by the end of the season when we’re getting ready for nationals.”