NIU rooting for national championship

By Anthony Leva

The NIU faithful that have braved the cold weather at Huskie Stadium as of late have been entertained by a potential national champion.

NIU rooting for national championship

All good-natured and sarcastic jabs at the football team aside, the NIU cheerleading squad has been invited to the National Collegiate Cheerleading and Dance Team Championships held Jan. 2 to 4 in Dallas, Texas.

The Huskies will be appearing in their second straight competition. They finished as the tenth best school in last year’s championships in their first national competition.

Second year coach Derek Ramel has high hopes for a club that came out of nowhere to compete for a national title.

“Our goal last year after nationals was to finish in the top five the following year,” Ramel said. “Now we’re looking for a possible top three finish and if everything hits at the right time, we feel that we’ll be the national champions.”

Hamel went on to say the exposure that comes with a national championship will help to put NIU on the national collegiate map.

“We want to bring a lot of national notoriety to the university. Not everyone will find out if we win, but in the cheerleading world, NIU is a big name. We’re doing our best to contribute to the exposure of our school.”

The stiffest competition for the Huskies should come from defending national champion Oklahoma State University, University of Louisville, University of Oklahoma, and 1990 national champions University of Kansas.

“We want to go to nationals and prove that NIU is something to reckon with. I feel that we have the energy to do that,” Ramel said.

“If you win a national championship, you get a ring. We use that as a motivator in practice all the time. Our practices are fun, but when people get down or lose their energy, I just ask them how bad do they want a championship ring and instantly, things fall into place again.

“Our first priority is to the crowd in the stadium, to get them fired up and in turn support the team as best as we can. But from a recognition point of view, we have to have that national recognition because then we know that we’ve done our job well here.”

Certainly anyone who watches NIU football can also attest to watching a job well done by the squad on the sidelines without the shoulder pads.