Cheerleading claims 2nd place in national competition


The NIU cheerleading team took second place in the National Cheerleaders Association College Championship in Daytona Beach, Florida. The team was cut from the athletics program this past year.

By Eddie Garcia

DeKALB — For the first time in university history, the cheerleading team finished No. 2 overall Friday in the National Cheerleaders Association Collegiate Championship in Daytona Beach, Florida.

The Huskies were one of 17 teams to compete in the Intermediate Division I tournament as they scored a 95.67 in their final performance to solidify the second-place finish. They fell just behind Southern Methodist University, which a recorded 97.33 overall score for its third consecutive first place-finish.

Despite having a rough first day at the competition with a preliminary score of 92.90, sophomore Jemea Green said her team overcame adversity as it bounced back on day two of the competition.

“We faced different struggles throughout the past couple years,” Green said. “We pushed each other to be the best at what we do, and we obviously wanted to get first, but I am very happy about a second-place finish, especially being in a division competing against so many people. I am just happy we went out there and killed it.”

Green said the co-ed team composed of 21 females and five males left everything on the mat in its first attempt at the NCA competition.

NIU’s second place finish in the NCA competition is a huge advancement in the program as it is highly recognized by schools across all 50 states.

Aubrey Gallione, first year volunteer head coach, said she is extremely proud of her team, as it was able to battle through athletics cutting its program and becoming the second-best team in the nation.

“I’m most proud of these kids for stepping up and taking it upon themselves to try to rebuild this program after being cut from athletics and left without a coach,” Gallione said. “I’m proud of the seniors for sticking it out through all the bad that they’ve faced over the past few years, and I’m most proud of the fact that prelims was not their best performance and then they came out day two at finals, stronger than ever and hit a deduction-free routine.”

Gallione said it was the team’s best performance she has ever seen during her time as head coach.

This accomplishment comes nearly one year after the team was cut from the NIU Athletics program, leaving their journey to Daytona completely funded by out of pocket funds and fundraisers by members of the team.

“Funding is a huge roadblock for this program, but I’m hoping to continue to fundraise for these kids so the cost of what they pay per season will go down,” Gallione said. “It’s very rare to have a Division I school not have their cheerleading program under athletics. Unfortunately, I know money is tight all around, and the athletic department found themselves having to make tough decisions because of budget cuts, but I just want to make sure my athletes feel important because they are so deserving.”

The cheer team believes it can build upon its success at the NCA College National Championships for future years to come, as they retain Head Coach Aubrey Gallione and 18 underclassmen from this year’s team.

Senior Brittany Balassone said she is proud she is able to graduate from the program on top after accomplishing something that has never been achieved in program history.

“I’m thankful for all the help we received from our coach, and I know that the team will only go up from here,” Balassone said.