Under the direction of Head Cheerleading Coach, Nicky Bruno, Mercer Cheer took fourth in the 32nd NCA and NDA Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championship in Daytona, Fla. during Apr 11-15.
This National Competition is the largest College Cheer and Dance Championship in the world. According to the competition’s press release, “Over 5,000 student athletes, and thousands of spectators, come together each year for the spectacular competition of technical skills, showmanship, game day abilities, and outstanding teamwork!”
In order to qualify for nationals, Mercer Cheer hosted a three-day NCA Cheer Camp. At the end of the third day, Mercer Cheer was evaluated during two closed performances by representatives of the NCA coaching staff. One performance consisted of game-day material, and the second involved an abbreviated competition routine that included stunts, tumbling, and a high energy dance routine. The NCA coaches used scoring standards from the NCA competition to determine whether or not Mercer Cheer met the qualifications for nationals.
Upon finding out that Mercer Cheer received a bid to nationals, Bruno commented, “We were very excited to receive a bid to the 2012 NCA College Nationals again this year. Competing at this prestigious event, last year, was an honor and we are all eager to take the stage for a second time.”
Preparation for the competition started in October with the development of their routine. Jessica Carrier, a Junior member of Mercer Cheer said, “we practiced every week for about six days out of the week, sometimes even twice a day. These practices were usually about two and a half to four hours long.” Nicky Bruno, in a recent interview stated, “Our cheerleaders are every bit as dedicated to being the best representatives for Mercer athletics as is any sports team. They have high expectations for themselves and are proud to wear the Orange and Black, whether cheering at a game or in competitions like the NCA event.”
Once in Daytona for the competition, Carrier recalls the atmosphere as being “‘fierce,’ everyone is on point and sizing up the competition everywhere the go. As soon as you step off that bus, people are looking and talking about if you are a team to beat or not.”
Mercer Cheer competed with 10 other schools in their division. Carrier says, “we could have gotten 3rd, possibly even 2nd if we had done the routine to our full potential.”
After coming off such a great season, Mercer Cheer is aiming for an even better season. When asked what she thought next year would look like, Carrier said, “I’m going back for the rings! I have been [to the NCA event] twice now and received 4th place. I’m ready to work even harder to get that 1st place trophy!”
Under Head Coach Nicky Bruno, a successful season is sure to be had. The Cheerleaders as a whole look up to their coach – a former Louisville Cheerleader. According to Carrier, “to a cheerleader, that basically means she is a cheer god and we are so lucky to have her as our coach.” Carrier added, “[Bruno] is always pushing us to achieve what our goals are, not hers. She would do anything in her power to make sure this group of 20 people make it to where they want to go.”