5 Team Performances To Watch At NDA Collegiate Nationals 2016

2016-3-20 NDA TEAM TEAMS PREDICTIONS

This year, the NDA Collegiate National Championships in Daytona are super bittersweet, because for the first time in a long time I’m not going to be taking the floor in the Ocean Center dancing my heart out for a national championship.

But! At least I’ve already got my Varsity TV subscription set up for the live stream and I have the time to make a top teams to watch list. You win some, you lose some?

I’m going to be counting down teams I’m excited to see between Team Dance and Open Dance because it would simply be impossible to narrow it down to five between the two divisions. Who knows? Maybe I’ll throw a hip hop in there, too.

Here are my top Team Dance teams:

  1. University of Louisville/Penn State Lionettes

This anticipation is pretty similar to how I was feeling during 2016 UDA Collegiate Nationals when Minnesota was taking on Tennessee after last year’s upset. I’ve been a pretty diehard Louisville fan for a while (note my unbelievable reverence for Coach Todd Sharp), but for a while Penn State has been taking the title (until they didn’t last year). Penn State’s social media activity has shown that they are really out for blood this year and I don’t really blame them considering both Louisville and a super random team beat them last year. So this should be interesting.

  1. Iowa State University

Remember that super random team I mentioned who beat Penn State? This is them. I really hope that they bring it again this year. I was at the Band Shell the morning of IA finals and there was nothing like seeing their faces when they came in second, seeing them really surprise themselves and feel proud of what they managed to do through humble hard work. It was really pretty beautiful.

  1. Ramapo College

This is where my bias comes in. Assumption and Ramapo have a decent history of strongly supporting each other, and I have to give these ladies a shoutout. That said, they totally deserve this. Ramapo was back to back champs in 2012 and 2013, and came in second last year in DIII Team Performance. Practicing with them is like being on another planet… They have the most unreal energy, are constantly talking to each other throughout the routine, and push each other more than you could ever know. Having the chance to practice with them was so inspiring and it showed me and my team how much harder we could we working. Naturally, I’m rooting for them to bring out the big W this year.

  1. Towson University

I’d be pretty remiss if I didn’t mention Towson. In the entire dance team community, nobody defines dynasty the way Towson does. I think they’re like, ten? (eleven? twelve?) time national champions. They have one year where they aren’t Team Performance champs and that’s the year they decided to shake things up in Open Performance and win that instead. While I sometimes think another team could topple Towson, hearing from team alumni about how difficult it is to be on that team, I can’t do anything but respect them and get amped to see what they bring out every year.

  1. Boston University

Sucks to B U! Just kidding. More like want to B U. These ladies are fierce. Remember what I said about Ramapo? Same kind of goes for them. Last year I feel like they really concentrated hard on their hip hop (and it paid off), but they still somehow whipped out a fourth place finish for Team Performance, too. It is unreal how excited I am to see in which areas they’ve improved for this year.

5 Coed Teams to Watch at NCA Nationals 2015

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Guys! I’ts that time of year! National Cheer and National Dance Alliance Collegiate Nationals! Words cannot describe how excited I am because I’m finally writing about the national competition that my team attends. How freaking cool is that? These are the teams I’m so excited to see, and I get the honor of seeing them in person.

Since I attend NDA nationals and have, yaknow, my whole college career, it hasn’t just been about the dance for me. It’s been about cheer, too. So, I’ve decided to count down the five teams I’m most excited to see at NCA nationals. These are all co-ed teams (although some might have all girl counterparts), mostly because co-ed is really exciting because the guys are so strong and can throw the flyers pretty much anywhere they want… like last year I saw for the first time a basket toss where a dude was the flyer. What?! I freaked out.

All of these teams were selected because they’re either legendary, or generally have really awesome sportsmanship– some of them even have both. Although I had my little stunt (haha, pun totally intended) with cheerleading my freshman and sophomore year of high school, I really don’t know much of the technique of it all, but I sure do know which teams get me pumped up and which teams make me say wow. And that’s what cheerleading is about, right?

1. The University of Louisville Cheer IA, Small Coed IA

What would this list be without the Cards? They lost three stunts in small coed last year and still won. What? That’s how amazing these kids are. And their routine in Cheer IA was nearly perfect– the only problem was that OSU’s routine was more perfect. Something that will always have me cheering for Louisville, though, is how much I freaking respect their coach, Todd Sharp. He’s a legend in the spirit world and such a class act. It’s hard not to get behind a team that he coaches.

2. Oklahoma State University Cheer IA, Small Coed IA

Just like I couldn’t post this list without Louisville, I couldn’t post it without OSU. They’re perennial favorites with the Cards, and it’s always so exciting to see the two teams go head to head yet again. OSU has some of the cleanest tumbling I’ve ever seen, and it blows my mind apart, and I can’t wait for them to blow my mind further. Fun fact about OSU: whenever I think of them, I think about the time I saw one of the boys on their team carrying around a stick that they all slid their national champion rings onto, and it was one of the most glorious things I’ve ever seen.

3. Stephen F. Austin State Cheer I, Small Coed I

What’s really weird about SFA is that they are so much better in smoed than in large, which for whatever reason, doesn’t tend to be the case for other teams. Does SFA just spend more time on this team? Or what? Either way, I’m obsessed and am dying to see what they do this year in smoed. These folks kill it with energy every freaking year.

4. Navarro College Junior College

Do Navarro students just study cheerleading all day? Because holy crap. They are UNREAL. It’s so weird because even though they’re in the junior college division, this team could totally hold its own in DI or DIA. Like, they’re a total dynasty and have owned junior college for years. Unlucky ducks for the other folks in their division, huh?

5. Texas Tech University Cheer IA

Okay, okay, I admit it– one of my favorite parts of TTU’s cheer team is that the boys on it are the prettiest male cheerleaders at the entire event, but that’s not the whole reason why I love them! TTU is such a strong contender in cheer IA, and I love every year being able to see them get closer and closer on OSU and Louisville. I hope I get to see them creep up on those two teams even further this year. Nothing like a super close competition to get your blood rushing, am I right?

Who are you all excited to see cheer at NCA Nationals? Are there any kickass all girl teams that you think should be highlighted? Let me know!

And then it hit me.

I talk a lot about my writing on here (I’m mean… I want to grow up someday and become a writer or do something with writing and media, so I guess it makes sense), but I’ve never really shared about dance. My first love ever. The way I first learned how to put my heart on display. My team.

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So here it is.

I grew up dancing. It was something my sister did, and I don’t even think I asked to sign up for it—my mom just threw me in there. I’m glad she did.

Dance was sort of just an activity for me until I was in sixth or seventh grade—that’s when the gross, intense love affair began. I poured myself over YouTube videos with amazing dancers, I danced in my yard and in the teeny tiny section of tile floor in my living room, I saw dances in my head as I listened to music. Somewhere along the way I stopped doing moves and started being moved.

And then I went to college, and started on this dance team that was nothing but DII Open eighth place at NDA nationals. We didn’t really have a ton of skills and w12e didn’t really have a ton of technique. But we had a lot of heart—we had a lot of girls who weren’t just doing moves, but being moved. At the end of that first year we were second place.

We became the kind of team that went to the gym together, that could run an eight-minute mile and had lines from muscle definition down the sides of our legs. We became the kind of team that never stopped pushing and that could do a lot of pirouettes and that had really high leaps. But maybe we’d lost our heart. I think somewhere on our journey that second year we started just doing moves again, and things started to unravel and I started to fall out of love.

At the end of that year our coach gave up. He left the school, he left (what was left of) us all alone with our hands shaking and our eyes closed and our stomachs in knots because we didn’t know how to lead a team alone. And so we stopped moving altogether.

This final year new people have joined us, and we’ve started moving again. People have come back to us. And we’ve learned that if we get knocked down the only thing that keeps us there is if we stop moving.

My team got the choreography for our nationals routine this weekend. For anyone who doesn’t compete at the national level in college (dance or cheer), I can tell you this: choreography is like trying to hold yourself up when just the tips of your fingers are gripping the ledge. What makes it is if you believe the tips of your fingers are enough.

A few counts of eight into the dance. Our formation changes. My favorite line of the song is coming, and I look to my right and to my left.

The three girls I started this journey with.

And then it hit me.

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And it hit them, too. I could feel my tears coming. Sophie started crying. Michaela’s eyes were red. Ericka was looking between us all.

I’m so thankful for them all, because this year I’m not doing moves—I’m being moved.