1:40 p.m., Jan. 20, 2011----Two University of Delaware spirit teams -- the YoUDee mascot team and the dance team -- won national championships at the Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) College Cheerleading and Dance National Championships, held Jan. 15-18 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
The UD cheerleaders also had an outstanding competition, finishing second in an energetic and hard-fought battle against Morehead State University of Kentucky.
Performances of the mascot, dance and cheerleading teams can be found at the Varsity.com website. ESPN and ESPN2 plan to air the UCA championships during the spring.
YoUDee wins third national championship
For YoUDee, a member of the Mascot Hall of Fame, it was the third national championship in the last 10 years.
YoUDee won the UCA's open mascot competition, with the University of South Alabama's SouthPaw finishing in second place, the University of Wisconsin Parkside's Ranger Bear in third, the University of Montana's Monte in fourth and Old Dominion University's Big Blue in fifth.
“All of the University's spirit teams did a terrific job at this year's UCA national championships,” said Sharon Harris, assistant director in the Office of Communications and Marketing and director of the mascot program. “Our YoUDee squad prepared well and had an outstanding performance, and the students should be very proud of bringing a third national championship trophy back to campus.”
Andrew Davis, a first-year member of the mascot team, said it was a privilege to go to Disney World, although “you don't really get to enjoy it at first because the team is so focused on altering and repairing props and practicing before the big competition day.”
He said the team spent time watching other mascot teams to best prepare for the 2012 event. “Everything we do is to better develop our character, and winning nationals is just a great reflection of the hard work that everyone put into program,” he said.
“Our team really came together, worked hard and supported each other throughout the whole nationals process and competition,” said Lisa Easton. “It feels great to have another win my senior year on the team.”
Dance team continues to dominate in hip hop
The UD dance team won the UCA Division I hip hop competition for the third straight year, and for the fourth year in the category's eight years of existence.
The hip hop category had 19 participating teams, with St. John's University finishing second, Hofstra University third, St. Joseph's University fourth and Southeastern Louisiana University fifth.
The dance team also finished 10th out of 23 teams in the jazz category.
“I was ecstatic with my team winning another title and creating a legacy in the hip hop world,” said dance team coach Nicole K. Daliessio-Zehnder. “The dancers are very talented and versatile and love to perform. This love of dance definitely showed in their performances.”
"It's never easy going into any competition as a defending champion," Alyssa Quezada said. "We knew that we were the team to beat and that all the other teams were coming with the idea of 'de-throning' the Delaware dance team. You'd think after winning two back to back championships -- something that had never been done in Division 1 before --we'd be confident in our talent and performance, but in reality we were very nervous."
The team regained its confidence just before taking the stage for the final hip hop performance, she said, and members realized that the event was about performing, competing, and leaving it all on the floor "so that at the end of the day, no matter what the result, we would be happy with our performance and proud of what we had accomplished." And that is what happened, and the Blue Hens were announced the winning team.
"I would like the 2010-2011 UD dance team to be remembered as a team that worked hard, never stopped fighting, and was never satisfied with good enough," Quezada said. "We strive and push everyday to be the best college dance team whether it be through our performances at games, our appearance at events, or by winning another national championship so that when all is said and done, we can be proud of ourselves as individuals and as a team."
Cheerleaders finish second in hard-fought battle
Cheerleading coach Ben Schreiber said the squad finished second in a hard-fought battle with perennial power Morehead State. “It was a very close competition,” Schreiber said, “with both of the top two teams executing nearly flawless routines.”
Article by Neil Thomas
Photos by Evan Krape