For the first time since 2002, the UNH cheerleading team took home first-place in the National Cheerleading Association (NCA) Division I national championship on April 8.
This past weekend, the UNH Cheerleading team traveled down to Daytona Beach, Florida to compete for the All-Girl Division I National Championship. After joining the team in October, head coach Scott Rigoli and assistant coach Brad Burlamachi exceeded their own expectations going into nationals.
“Daytona was a surprise, our goal wasn’t to win, it was to do our best. Our best ended up being winning,” Rigoli said.
UNH’s first-place title bested Sam Houston State University out of Texas who came in second place and Towson University from Baltimore, Maryland who placed third.
The 38-member team is led by juniors and team captains Nicole Swartz, Karissa Young and Brianna Wason. Young commented on the team’s confidence in the routines and her satisfaction with the performance overall.
“We went out there and we were confident with everything. We hit our routine both days and I couldn’t be any prouder of our team,” Young said.
“The girls earned it. They put all the time, effort and dedication to being competitive athletes,” Rigoli said.
The team performed one routine each day on Thursday and Friday April 6-7. These two days led to their cumulative score of 91.5 out of 100, according to teammate Maryssa Tripoli.
“In cheerleading, meets scores are based on who makes the least mistakes and the difficulty of the performance,” Tripoli said. The UNH team ended up beating Sam Houston University by a close .15 points. UNH stood separate from other teams because of the minimal deduction of points.
“We had a medium amount of difficulty and made little to no mistakes,” Rigoli said. “This was important because our competitors were so good but made more mistakes which lead us to make our way to the top.”
In a combined effort, this national championship became a dream come true for this team, which was made possible by a solid coaching staff according to the competitors.
“[Rigoli and Burlamachi] coaching is very centered around being sharp and hitting clean stunts versus doing stunts that may be too hard for us and would look messy when completed,” Tripoli said.
“They saw the potential we had and pushed us at every single practice,” Young said. “I’m a firm believer that they were meant to coach us because they were the type of coaches we always wanted.”
Currently the cheer team is graduating one senior, April Cain. As the season has come to an end for the cheer team, Rigoli encourages all incoming freshmen or women considering joining the team to come try out.
“It’s definitely a [once] in a life time experience, it’s a team sport sense of a community,” he added. “A national championship will last forever…Reaching a goal is a victory on its own. ”
Next year the UNH Cheerleading team looks to defend its title as national champions. You can support the UNH Cheerleading program by following them on Twitter at “UNH_Cheer” and on Instagram @unhcheer. You can also find them on Facebook by going to the University of New Hampshire Cheerleading Facebook page.
Tryouts for the next season start May 13, 2017, from 12-6 p.m.. Any other tryout details can be found on the UNH Athletics page but also stay on the lookout for posts on their social media channels.