ETSU Cheer Team finishes strong in national championship

Brandon Paykamian • Updated Jan 25, 2019 at 5:04 PM

ORLANDO — The East Tennessee State University Cheer Team placed fourth in the Universal Cheerleaders Association National Championship Division 1 All-Girl competition, hosted last weekend in Orlando.

The UCA and Universal Dance Association National Championships hosted 5,500 of the nation’s top college and university cheerleaders, dancers and mascots from 242 teams, 42 states and 10 countries. ETSU placed fourth in its category behind West Georgia University, which won first place; Morehead State University, which took second place; and Sacramento State University, which placed third.

Coach Van VanEaton said this year’s finish was the highest in ETSU history. After showcasing their abilities on a widely televised event featured on ESPN and ESPN2 in more than 100 million homes in 30 countries, VanEaton said the team is feeling confident about next year.

“We’ve never made it out of semis to finals. Once you break through, you have this newfound confidence,” he said. “You just have to get to that point first, and now suddenly, they believe in their potential. They believe in themselves more once you get them to a certain point.”

It meant a lot after months of practice and hard work, according to VanEaton, who said the team practiced twice a week every week when classes were in session and “basically every day” during Christmas break for three hours a day leading up to the national championship.

“They feel very accomplished and grateful that people were now seeing their hard work come to fruition,” VanEaton said.

VanEaton said he hopes to see the team return next year to take the title.

“I think it’s going to be a whole new ballgame next year because now they know we can improve upon what we did this year,” he said.

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