by Ryan Lee, NAU Media Relations
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - As the fall sports come to a close in Northern Arizona University, the cheer and dance teams say goodbye to the football field and transition to the basketball court.
"This football season was a lot of fun for both squads," said Amber Roberts of the NAU cheer team. "Cheering on the football team as a combined squad and being a part of a great season was a positive experience for us."
Throughout the season, the cheer and dance teams' role was to pump up the crowd by leading the student section in the university fight song and tossing t-shirts into the crowd. The students kept the two squads busy as most games entertained a nearly full student section.
"The crowd this year was really upbeat and much more involved than last year," said Roberts. "The energy and enthusiasm of those in the stands gave us [cheer and dance] a really strong connection with each other."
Now both squads will switch their focus to the court in preparation for the basketball season, as well as competitions of their own. The cheer and dance teams will cheer on both the men's and women's teams throughout the winter and spring months. This transition means more hours and a change of rotations.
"We change all of our sideline dances for basketball," said senior dancer Hannah Degnan. "Now we focus on performances for time-outs and half-time shows instead of routines on the sideline of football games."
As the two squads move their focus to the court, they recognize a very busy spring. There will be a combined 23 games between the men's and women's teams, which is more than four times the total amount of football home games in a single season. To better accommodate for the demand, both cheer and dance will split into four teams and rotate between games.
"We do split up into groups when cheering for basketball games," said NAU Cheer coach Travis Doerfler. "We split up because there are a lot of games, appearances, practices, and performances that the team must be at."
Splitting the two teams into groups will require a great need for attention to detail. The cheer and dance teams will be required to work in small groups throughout the spring season, and then come back together in March for two national competitions. This can be difficult because the team competitions in March require every athlete to be in sync with each other.
"In March we will compete in two national competitions," said Degnan. "This requires us to practice more often and clean up our routines to be sure we are all on step with each movement."
The two competitions include the United Cheer Association Nationals Championships on March 9-10, and the United Spirit Association National competition on March 17-18; both of which will be hosted in California.
For complete coverage of the Cheer and Dance spring competitions, visit NAUAthletics.com.