Cheer team to compete virtually in national competition


Courtesy of Isabelle Masloski

Jordan Rusche, Lifestyles Editor (She/her)

The Jacks All-Girl Cheer Team will be competing in the Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) College Nationals for the first time in South Dakota State University history.

The team will submit a video of their routine for the first round of competition April 12. Results will be announced April 19, which will decide what teams advance to the final round of Nationals held April 22. 

Isabelle Masloski, assistant coach of the cheer team, said of the four teams competing in SDSU’s division, called Open All Girl Game Day-Cheer, only two will move on to the final round. Teams were also given a choice whether to perform in person or virtually because of the pandemic.

Junior Ally Zerfas, a cheerleader, said the team’s season up until now has gone well, all things considered. Though their practices during the summer were limited because of a lack of facilities, the team was able to practice all last semester.

“We couldn’t stunt at all, so we just worked on technique with motions and stuff,” she said. “We did a lot of team bonding to fill in what we couldn’t normally do.”

The team was approved to practice stunts after winter break, and not too long after found out they were eligible to compete at Nationals.

“In order for us to be eligible to compete at UCA College Nationals, all teams must attend a UCA College Camp prior,” Masloski said about the process of being approved to compete at Nationals. “For us, we attend the four-day Chula Vista Camp in Wisconsin Dells, which usually takes place the beginning of August every year. At this camp, we are evaluated and invited to attend College Nationals.”

Zerfas added that most teams have much longer to prepare for Nationals, usually having the entire year to practice routines.

Hanna Siemonsma, another junior on the team, also said that with 13 freshmen on the team this year, it was a challenge to put together stunts in only a couple months. Still, she and Zerfas feel the cheerleaders did well and handled the challenge with flexibility.

“I feel like the team has really excelled at progressing with so many new girls,” Siemonsma said.

Both cheerleaders said they are excited for the opportunity, with Zerfas saying it feels like they are “making history” being the first cheer team from SDSU to compete at Nationals.

“There’s been a cheer team at SDSU for like 100 years, but in those 100 years … SDSU’s never competed, and the dance team has really only been competing for a couple years, as well,” Zerfas said.

Despite the rush to prepare, Masloski feels confident in her team’s ability to advance onto the final round.

After evaluating our competition and our routine, we are confident this team will have the opportunity to move on to finals and place high in our division,” she said.

The routines will be posted to VarsityTV for fans to watch after judging has concluded. The details of this are yet to be determined.