FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona cheer team travels to Hollywood this weekend to compete Saturday in the 2013 United Cheer Association West Coast Championships hosted at the Gibson Amphitheatre on Universal Citywalk near Universal Studios, Calif. The Lumberjacks will showcase their talent in the collegiate cheer division. NAU competed in the UCA East Coast championships last year in Orlando, Fla., but never on the west coast under cheer coach Travis Doerfler.
"We are very confident about our routines and excited to compete," said Doerfler. "There is a good feeling around everyone which creates positive energy and enthusiasm going into the event."
For the Lumberjack cheer team, this weekend will be their first competition of two this season, including the national championships come March. This means the squad has only one shot to compete on the big stage before heading to nationals.
"This is a high level test for us as we prepare ourselves for nationals," said team captain and base Mark Rudolfo. "We expect to perform at the level where we put everything out on the mat and give 100 percent."
Even with limited competitions, the Lumberjacks have had opportunities to showcase their moves as they look to bring home some hardware of their own. The cheer squad has recorded significant practice time as they have cheered on the NAU football team, as well as both the men's and women's basketball teams. They now focus on the experiences that have led them to this weekend.
"We have had two showcases this semester that have led us to this point and we feel really strong going into this weekend," said Rudolfo. "We really hope to hit our routines with perfection."
The cheer team will compete in just one round at 6:00 p.m. Arizona time on Saturday, Feb. 23 in front of judges, fans, and other elite talent. All they can hope for now is perfection after hours of practice and preparation.
"Hours and hours of practice," said freshman Jenna Homsey. "When I'm asked what we have done to prepare for this weekend, all I have to refer to is practice. I am ecstatic to compete because of how prepared we are."
Those same words have been echoed by others who also believe their squad is ready for the big stage.
"We have prepared almost daily for a couple of months," said base Darien Corret. "We have early morning weight training twice a week with practices in the evening that usually end around 10:00 p.m. each night; not to mention weekend practices that consume our Saturdays."
The Lumberjacks hope to carry the success of the cheer and dance program as the dance team recently celebrated two top-10 finishes last month in Orlando, Fla. For Coach Doerfler, his pathway to success will depend on his two captains to lead the way.
"Mark is our captain and one who everyone looks up to," said Doefler. "Then there is Bree who is one of our seniors that frequently changes roles and steps in wherever is needed. The team will look to them for their leadership. With their help, I am confident that we will excel in this competition."
For complete coverage and results for Saturday's competition visit Varsity.com or NAUAthletics.com