The Sacred Heart cheerleading team took home the program's highest ever national finish at the Universal Cheerleaders Association National Championship last week at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fl. After entering the Pioneers' first ever final round as the eight seed, SHU showed improvement from the semi-finals to finish tied for sixth.
"Overall, the year was a major success as we made a name for ourselves as a national contender," said Head Coach Aimee Piccin. "We had nothing to lose, and that can be a brilliant spot to be in. A very young team, but still a team full of dedicated and hardworking athletes that proved they can meet their goals. I believe our peers will consider us a team to watch next year."
Not allowing any times for their nerves to get to them, the Pioneers were the first all-female team to take the mat, an exciting position that allowed SHU to set the bar for other squads in its division. After their best performance of the season that saw them recover well from small mistakes, the Pioneers sat in eighth place by just one point at the end of the semi-finals, making the 2014-15 Pioneer cheer team the first in program history to make the finals at the national level.
"We were the new guys in that final round and just being there was significant to us," said Piccin. "To look around and to be warming up for a second time with these powerhouse teams, some who hold national titles, was a wonderful accomplishment for SHU."
Sacred Heart entered the final round as the eighth seed, but with some improvements they finished two places higher. The Pioneers had a few mishaps in their final routine, but recovery was key as most teams had imperfections.
"To see our Pioneers on the mat for the final awards is a memory I'll never forget," explained Piccin. "Only the teams to make it into the finals are included in that ceremony, which is broadcasted on ESPN, and to watch their smiling faces walk out as a final team overwhelmed me with emotion. The love we felt from members of the community was incredible too. SHU showed us love and we are thankful for that."
The Pioneers qualified for UCA Nationals after receiving a bid during an August skills camp. While UCA is very much about performing with a competitive routine, 15 percent of their overall score on the national level was based on a crowd tape, which contained footage from SHU football and basketball games, as well as community and other service events they participated in to raise the spirit and crowd involvement, that was submitted ahead of time. Sacred Heart received a perfect score for the video, that was put together by sophomore Colleen Riordan.