Sacred Heart University’s cheerleading team has had four consecutive wins at the Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA).
Senior Ciara Doyle, one of the captains of the Sacred Heart cheerleading program, said one of the ways the team has maintained their consistency and success over the years is by “keeping the program together as a family.”
“I think one of the biggest things when you run out on the mat is that you don’t want to feel like an individual, you want to be able to turn and look at all of your friends and be like, that’s my sister, and thinking ‘she has my back,’ and you can say it out loud ‘you got this’ and know they actually mean it,” said Doyle.
The team has been preparing since Aug. 1 for the next nationals competition from Jan. 12-14, 2024.
“Everything we’re doing, like UCA Camp, all of our practices, is in preparation for nationals,” said Head Coach CJ Sereno.
As the team has been perfecting their skills, they have also set their routine for nationals.
“I would say now is when it starts to get into the full routine- mode,” said Sereno. “Starting Aug. 1, we’re more-so preparing our skills and deciding what it is that we’re gonna put in the routine. Now, the routine is set, so they’re working their skills over and over again in the routine with their music, doing the routine entirely from beginning to end.”
The program has two different style routine teams: traditional and game day. The team generally practices five times a week.
Senior Nina Campos, one of the captains of the team, said, “We like to use pressure as a privilege, because it gives us an opportunity to work even harder to stay on top and maintain the national title and the success that we have made. It’s important that we use that pressure to get even better.”
Campos said her experience being one of the captains has been great, and “Having this position is amazing because I’m able to support my teammates and be able to give the coaches feedback of any of their input in an understanding way.”
“Just being there for everyone is definitely one of my priorities,” said Campos. “I have a lot of respect for all my teammates, and I do my best to make practice very positive.”
Doyle highlighted her experience being one of the captains as well, and said,
“I like to make the team bond, even just make them laugh at practice, so it makes it feel like something to look forward to rather than stressing about. I really like being that person, as a captain, because I know exactly what it feels like to be stressed out during finals week or school in general,” said Doyle.
When looking back on the program’s four consecutive championships, SHU cheerleading received their first ever national title in 2020.
“It’s the best feeling in the world. So, in 2020, I think about it and talk about it all the time, it was the best day of my life. It was so unexpected, especially in the traditional division; placing first in the traditional division was unheard of,” Sereno said.
“That feeling was incredible and just absolutely insane, because no one had won that division except the two top tier teams that had been fighting for first and second. So we were the first team to beat both of them.”
As the SHU cheerleading team’s season continues, Sereno said
“Our goals have always remained the same; that’s just to hit our routine and do the absolute best that we can. I always tell them I never want them to walk off the mat with any regrets.”