Cheerleaders Earn Historic National Title after “Road 2 Redemption”

By Jackie Torok / 04/18/2024 Athletics, Students

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (April 18, 2024) – North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s Cheerleading Program has brought its first championship title home from the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) and National Dance Alliance (NDA) College National Championship.

With a final score of 97.6412, the N.C. A&T team took first-place honors in the Intermediate Small Coed Division I group. The group of 14 competitors included only two other teams from a historically Black college or university (HBCU).

In last year’s competition, the Aggie cheerleaders received second-place honors – missing first place from among 21 teams by less than one point.

But they would not be denied in this year’s event, held April 11-13 in Daytona, Florida.

Their “Road 2 Redemption,” as they called it, saw them make history by becoming the first HBCU team to win this division title and the first HBCU team in North Carolina to win an NCA National Championship.

The other HBCU champion in the competition was Xavier University of Louisiana, which won in the Advanced Large Coed National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics group.

A&T’s squad earned the third-highest final score among all 372 groups in the competition.

“We practiced for it. We planned for it. We manifested it,” said team member Janiya Croxie. “And to see it actually come true is just a great feeling.”

Watch their winning routine here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IB6VGQ5cvs8

“When we heard that we didn’t get second, it was like a sense of relief and all I could do was thank God,” said team co-captain Santana Baker. “Finally, the win that we’ve been working hard since last time we stepped foot into Daytona.”

The 2023 Aggie squad members were the first team from the university to compete in the national competition. They also made their mark as the first squad in at least 20 years to represent an HBCU from North Carolina in last year’s event.

“Better Than Yesterday” has been the team’s motto throughout this season.

“We knew what it felt like to be so close to something we’ve dreamed of and never received, so we made it our duty to never feel that again,” said Iycess Hooper, team co-captain for a second consecutive year. “We pushed through adversity to make a statement to the world that, yes, it is possible and, yes, we can do it, too. Hunger, grit, poise, intentionality and the power of God is what led us to this win.”

“This win was unlike any win I’ve ever experienced in my life,” said Alivia Barrow, also in her second consecutive year as team co-captain. “I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything, and I thank God and my coach for the amazing men and women who were brought together to make dreams a reality.”

Daniel Kearns-Pickett, the Aggies’ head cheerleading coach who competed in the national event as a college student, said this year’s results represent a huge step for A&T’s program and for HBCUs.

“This was more than just winning and making history,” said Kearns-Pickett. “For me, it was all about my athletes understanding who they are and truly knowing they can accomplish anything in this world.”

The A&T cheerleading squad is a highly visible group, designed to build humble, strong and competitive student athletes who are active in the community and serve as positive representatives of the university. Its athletes participate in game-day activities and events such as the Greatest Homecoming on Earth, as well as competitions throughout the year.

The 2023-24 squad members are co-captains Baker, Barrow and Iycess Hooper, Taylor Allen, Alexander Baggett, Jade Barnes, Madisyn Burnette, Katie Cantey, Sydney Cooke, Croxie, Christion Drew, Nia Fletcher, Lyric Green, Rhyan Harp, Jaedyn Harris, Isaiah Herbin, Ania Hill, Jaida Hines, Ni’Yarah Horton-Washington, Nariyah Hough, Milani Kimble, Tanasia Lemon, Madison Manley, Carter Powell, Trinity Rascoe, Rozalynn Smith, Kennedi Stevens, Myles Taylor, Sydney Thomas and Kai Ward.

Tryouts for next season’s team will take place Friday, April 19, and Saturday, April 20.

Media Contact Information: jtorok@ncat.edu

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