Page 12 - IU Southeast Summer 2012 Mag

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10 www.ius.edu
in the game
By Stephen Utz
IU Southeast cheerleaders rise to the top of the national pyramid for four years straight
Champions to the
fourth power
ost collegiate sports programs
are not expected to win national
championships in their fourth
year of competition. There are too
many established teams with more
resources, more tradition, top
recruits, and the best coaches.
It’s a good thing no one told that to the cheerleaders at IU
Southeast.
Not only did the squad win a 2012 national championship in
their fourth year of competition, but they also won in their
first, second, and third years, too.
“Our first year, we thought if we could go and place in the top
three we would be doing well,” IU Southeast cheerleading
coach Kaelin Abbott said. “When we won, it was crazy. Each
year the momentum just keeps building with the program.”
When Abbott took over in the fall
of 2005, she inherited a program
that had no illusion of cheering
competitively. Instead, the
cheerleaders simply cheered at
games.
“When I came in they were not
competing.” Abbott said. “My
main objective was to have a
consistent cheerleading program
that graduated cheerleaders, that
graduated students. After a couple
of years of not competing, I realized
that to take the program to the next
level we were going to have to be a
competition team.”
Abbott, a former IU Southeast cheerleader, saw an
opportunity to create and shape a competitive cheer
program.
“I saw a program that could be built up,” she said. “That was
what I was interested in. I didn’t want to take over a program
that was thriving; I wanted to take over something, make it
my own, and build it up. I saw the need for the program to be
better, and I saw the desire among the student body for it to
be better.”
She started by adding more structure and rules to the
program, and then tougher, more frequent practices
followed.
“The process at the beginning was to create a program that
was stable,” she said. “We started with simple rules: be
on time, you can’t miss practice, different things like that.
Then slowly it evolved to a different type of cheerleader. We
weren’t recruiting cheerleaders that just wanted to cheer
at games; we were recruiting athletes who had competitive
backgrounds in cheering. Once we started competing and
winning, people started to hear about us, and that is what
brought us a different type of cheerleader.”
The squad practices year-round now, and the number of
practices varies depending on the point in the school year.
“Once we get to mid-November,
we shift over to all-competition
practices,” Abbott said. “It is pretty
grueling. They are two to three hour
practices anywhere from twice to
four times a week depending on
how we are progressing. They go
through their routine and work on
their skills to make sure we have a
solid routine when it comes down to
nationals.”
The squad headed to its first
competition in the spring of 2009 at
the Cheer Ltd. Nationals in Myrtle
Beach, S.C. They did not know
what to expect and hoped that a solid
routine would give them a top-three finish.
“Our expectations are to hit our routine with a zero-
deduction. That means that there are no stunts falling, there
are no touch-outs tumbling,” Abbott said. “That first year all
we wanted them to do was to do their best and hit a perfect
routine. We really focused on the cleanness of the routine,
our skill level, and how we could emphasize what we could
do.”