The UD cheerleaders celebrate their national championship.

Cheer champs

University cheerleaders win national championship

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2:06 p.m., Jan. 28, 2014--The University of Delaware spirit teams finished among the best in the 2014 Universal Cheerleading Association and Universal Dance Association National Championships held Jan. 17-19, at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., with the cheerleading squad winning a national championship.

The UD cheerleaders finished first in the Division I large coed competition, ending rival Morehead (Ky.) State University’s 12-year winning streak. 

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Fan favorite mascot YoUDee placed second in the open mascot division, and the dance team finished fifth in Division I hip hop and jazz competitions.

UD cheerleaders

Ben Schreiber, UD cheerleading coach, said taking the top spot was sweet after finishing second for the past seven years.

“Our team was, and still is, ecstatic,” Schreiber said. “Morehead State is a great program with so much tradition. It feels special to be on top for 2014.”

The cheerleaders, Schreiber said, put a lot of adversity behind them, logging countless hours learning and practicing skills for the routine used at the nationals.

“The factor that singlehandily contributed to the team’s success is the word ‘family,’” Schreiber said. “This team came together and supported each other on and off the mat, inside and outside of practice. They put each other and the team above themselves more than any other team I have ever coached.” 

Marissa Skiff, a senior public relations major, said, “Having the opportunity to go to Florida to represent the University of Delaware and coming home with is a win is a memory I will cherish forever.”

Kyle Rogers, a senior pre-law major, said that “to hear the announcer say ‘Delaware’ as the national champion validated all the time and effort that we put in preparing for that single, two-minute routine.” 

“At the end of the day, this is how every senior wants to end their career,” Rogers said. “I’m thrilled that I was able to be part of a program that is so talented and to establish friendships that will last a lifetime.”  

Still to come, the all-female UD STUNT team will host an event on Feb. 2 against Villanova and St. Joseph’s universities, and a regional tournament on Feb. 22 against five other teams.

For a video about the national championship, click here.

YoUDee mascot team

Sharon Harris, assistant director in the Office of Communications and Marketing and director of the mascot program, said the nationals are the highlight event of the year, and getting to see the skit performed there is very exciting. 

“Even though we placed second this year to Tennessee Tech by one point, it’s a great feeling to me that our team is able to show off their creative talents at the national level,” Harris said. “They worked very hard to get there and I’m very proud of their accomplishment. Bravo to the UD Mascot Team.” 

YoUDee had won three straight national titles and was going for a fourth.

Sydney Lobosco, a sophomore psychology major and first-year mascot team member, said being on the mascot team was quite different from her previous experience at the Orlando competitions.

“Cheering on my sister and the rest of the dance team last winter was exciting but could never compare to the thrill, anxiousness and happiness that I had watching YoUDee manifest all the hard work the team invested throughout the year,” Lobosco said. “The nationals were the highlight of my semester and I feel so lucky to have experienced it with such an exceptional group of people.”

Andrew Davis, a senior environmental engineering major, said he has learned to reconcile the disappointment of finishing second with the motivation to make himself and the team better. 

“I cherish the experiences and opportunities I’ve had over these past four years,” Davis said. “I hope to continue with this quirky passion of mine in the future.”

Dance team

Nicole Zehnder, dance team head coach, lauded the UD dancers for being true fighters and competitors, finishing 0.5 points from third place in jazz, and 1.5 points from first place in hip hop. 

“It’s the nature of the dance world — subjectivity and luck,” Zehnder said. “As a coach, I would not have changed a thing or asked any more from them. They did themselves, their coach and Delaware proud.” 

Daphne Donnellan, a sophomore in the College of Education and Human Development, said, “I’m so proud to be a part of this team, because I know that we all worked incredibly hard this year and left it all out there on the floor.” 

Alexandra Fabiilli, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and co-captain, said her years with the dance team have taught her the importance of teamwork, commitment, time management, perseverance and responsibility.

“The dance team taught me that we are family,” Fabiilli said. “Our coach, Nicole Zehnder, pushes us to be the best we can be, on and off the dance floor. She has instilled in me skills and values I will use in my future career and throughout life.”

Article by Jerry Rhodes

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