When you think of sports teams at West Virginia University you might imagine the football team running out onto Mountaineer Field or the basketball team shooting hoops at the Coliseum. WVU has a lot of sports teams that get a lot of attention. But people don't even know about some of the university's most successful teams. Including the WVU Competitive Cheerleading squad who is trying to repeat as National Champions this year.
"We are a competitive team. A lot of people are excited to hear that the school does have a competitive team that strictly competes versus cheering the sidelines at football games and basketball games," said Alexandra Russomano, the President of the WVU Competitive Cheerleading Squad. "So, we're our own thing. And we go to nationals every year to compete and hold our title."
The Competitive Cheer Squad can only take 20 girls to compete at Nationals in April. This means that girls that are on the squad who practice and compete to prepare for nationals don't always make the cut.
"There's girls that practice every practice on the side of the mat. They're willing to get in there every practice to compete for the top 20," said Dana Beach, a senior at WVU, a squad member, and the vice president. "So usually if people get hurt, people are eager to get in there and try new things. And if they heal and they can get back in, then they can. And if not you just have to replace them."
The cost the girls pay to be on the squad is also a challenge.
"Club sports does give us a stipend every year and they seem to be really good about it and it's gotten better every year," said Amanda Hite, the Head Coach. "The girls do take a lot of the cost upon themselves. It takes about $1,500 a girl to compete on the squad. They have to buy their own uniforms, their own shoes, their own practice gear, all traveling expenses, and competition fees."
The girls practice at Mylan Park at least twice a week until they start really competing for Nationals. Then practices move to three times a week.
The team is passionate about the sport and the girls say they are like a family.
"You come in and meet new girls every year, and you train all season and get to know them better and you go through ups and downs," said Beach. "You have your rough times, and you have your really good times. So, it's just that whole aspect. Just coming together as a family."
Most of the girls that try out their freshman year continue on the squad until they are seniors.
"It's important to be involved in a club sport or any kind activity it's really important to get involved with your university and it helps you meet people and grow as well," said Russomano.
The girls work hard each year to learn new stunts, tumbling passes, and routine for competitions. If you want to know exactly what the team is working on for this years championship, you'll just have to come out to their showcase in the spring.