Student Life

SAU Cheer Team Plans To Win Back-To-Back National Titles

Photo courtesy of Sydnee Horstman

The 2024 SAU Competitive Cheer Team is a dynamic blend of national champions and fresh newcomers, all together in their shared ambition to secure yet another national title. They are one of two cheer teams here at St. Ambrose, the other being the gameday squad.

With the arrival of the winter competition season, a mixture of anticipation, excitement, and nervous energy fills the air among the SAU cheerleaders. 

Returning senior Austyn Goodale says, “I’m most excited to travel with my teammates and get the opportunity to compete again and hopefully win another national title.” 

Last season, the SAU Cheer Team compiled against 14 teams at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti for the NAIA National Championship. The competition was a major success with a record-breaking score of 95.51 – the highest score a team has ever achieved at the NAIA National Championship.

Savannah Schumacher, a returning sophomore, reflects on last year’s win. “When our name got called when we won, it was an overall really emotional experience. You put so many hours into your team and performance while making sacrifices like missing school activities or not being able to hang out with your friends as much. It’s all worth it in the long run when you win nationals.”

This type of success is not an easy feat, the cheer team must put in hard work and dedication to go back-to-back.

“Even though we are reigning national champs, that doesn’t mean that we will be again, and we’re going to have to work for that just as hard,” says Schumacher, “Although it was good to win nationals, it’s a new season so we have to start over in a sense, especially with new people and trying to fit them into the positions to make the cohesion work.”

Junior Rachel Ruplinger, a new face to SAU cheer, explains, “What drew me to SAU is the talent and skill that is promising. I wanted to be on a team that could step up to the plate. I feel like that’s a new experience for me.”

Ruplinger previously cheered at the University of Iowa but took a hiatus before returning to the cheer world. “I’m excited to be in the cheer atmosphere again. I missed that feeling of when you hit a routine the most.”

As the team prepares for the upcoming competition season, they endure strenuous morning workouts specifically designed to enhance their performance to its potential. These workouts include a mix of weight training and agility. Additionally, the team allocates time exclusively for activities focused on mental health to be used in practice and everyday life.

Graduate Assistant Alyssa Alberti says, “We prepare physically not just in practice but also in workouts, making our bodies strong and also working on our minds mentally. We take the time to put into our mental health and ensure we are strong enough in both of those aspects through our season.”

The SAU cheer team plans to undertake five competitions and then compete at the NAIA Cheerleading Nationals on March 27th-30th, 2024 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The gameday squad can also be seen cheering at all upcoming SAU basketball games.

Ryan Russo is a staff writer for The Buzz.