Alex Toledo/ Contributing Writer
About 20 or so students hop inside of a large team bus. They’re enthusiastic, yet anxious as the bus makes its way to their destination, NCA Collegiate Championships, or “Nationals.” They arrive Wednesday, April 6, ready to take on the task at hand that they’ve been preparing for for several months. These are the FIU Cheerleaders and they deserve your attention.
FIU’s Cheerleading program is one that doesn’t receive much recognition. This year, however, they worked hard, mastered their work and made significant strides, ultimately resulting in placing 2nd at the National Cheerleaders Association Collegiate Championship in the Intermediate Coed 1 Cheer Division, with a final score of 86.20 points out of a possible 90 points.
FIU Cheer Head Coach Cory Hines and team captain Victoria “Tori” Suess sat down with Student Media to talk about the events that took place.
On the first day of the competition, the 10 schools that qualified for the Preliminary Competition performed. The way this works is that the five highest-scoring teams automatically qualify and advance to day two, the final day of the competition. The bottom five perform a second time in what’s called the Challenge Cup.
The team that scores the highest from those five joins the already-advanced schools in day two, for a total of six universities represented at the finals.
FIU finished in second place at day two, placing behind Michigan with a deficit of just 0.03 points, which both the Hines and Suess expressed was, just as it seems, a “really miniscule number.” It speaks to just how important every single aspect and every single move of a routine really is.
FIU Cheerleading performed first in day one at the Daytona Beach Bandshell and then at the Hilton Convention Center for day two.
Both Hines and Suess emphasized just how big a stage it is, saying that the Bandshell is the stage that many young cheerleaders can only dream of someday performing at.
Suess said that everyone was in “a ball of emotions” while they were on the way to Daytona Beach, as they performed and afterwards.
Suess described the experience as an “almost surreal” feeling and that it was a big moment for the rest of the team as well, especially with how insanely hard they work, having multiple intense workouts and practices a week.
She said that after the events, cheerleaders from other universities praised them for their performance and talked about wanting to either go or transfer to FIU, noting the beautiful uniforms, apparel, but most importantly, the amazing performances with such elaborate choreography.
Suess said that the email servers were crashed with all the people inquiring about FIU cheerleading after the competition.
As for Hines, who cheered for FIU in 2003 and 2004, which he described as his “best years”, said that the competition was a “learning experience” and that performing and succeeding at such a high level and big stage “feels great” being that this is only his second full year as a coach.
He also expressed that this was a great outcome seeing as FIU was the “underdog” last year.
Hines, a master choreographer, plans to continue next season as head coach, saying that this season and particularly the Collegiate Championships, left him with a renewed, passionate fire, inspiring him to work harder.
He feels that with the “increased focus and attention” FIU will be better and better for years to come, especially after a renewed focus on “cleanliness” with the routines, which Suess also attested to being a very important part of routines. They want to get into gear quicker than ever before.
Both the Hines and Suess feel that the Nationals really helped “put FIU back on the map.”
Suess, who will graduate in Fall 2016, feels the future is bright for FIU cheerleading.
Sports fans should be looking forward to what’s next for FIU Cheerleading. They will be holding tryouts Saturday, May 21, and Sunday, May 22 at the Bank United Center.
Fans can learn more about them on FIUCheer.com
Hines said that he tells his cheerleaders to “always be one step better than the day before,” and it’s safe to say FIU Cheerleading is many steps better than it was before.