Why do cheerleaders have the desire to compete? Is it to win first place, to impress the judging panel, or is it to make their coaches smile?
No element of cheerleading matters more than to show team spirit on the floor.
The seventh annual Spirit Festival was held at Quinnipiac University on March 3 where cheerleaders from the New England area came to compete and support their school. Over 1,000 spectators were in attendance during the two-day event.
The Spirit Festival started in 1995 and was founded by Robin Coe, the president of the Connecticut Spirit Association, Inc. and director of the all-star cheerleading program.
According to Coe, the competition originated from a fundraiser setup by a local high school cheerleading squad that she worked with in the past.
Since then, the competition has become very popular and well organized.
During the first year of the Spirit Festival there were only 15 teams signed up to compete, but this year’s competition showed a dramatic success with over 90 teams competing.
“I believe the competition has greatly expanded since it first began,” said Coe. “It has always ran well and I have enough staff to keep it organized.”
Known to be an outstanding speaker, Coe was the competition’s announcer. She introduced the judges’ panel and each team ready to take the floor. During the awards ceremony, Coe awarded the first, second and third place winners with a trophy.
As a 15-year veteran coach, Coe is currently coaching the Connecticut All-Star team from New Haven who exhibited their routine on Sunday.
Each cheerleading squad entered the competition under a specific division name depending on the size and age of the squad. The divisions on Saturday’s meet included, All-Girls elementary, All-Girls and Coed high school, and College All-Stars.
The divisions on Sunday’s meet included, All-Stars, Top Gun Cheer, Jump and Dance, Partner Stunts, Coed Partner Stunts, College Dance, and College All-Girls/ Coed. Each squad ranged in size from a small group of eight up to 32 members on a team.
Quinnipiac University cheerleaders were one of five teams to compete in the College All Girls/Coed Division on Sunday.
With a home advantage QU took the first place trophy for the first time this year. With a 20-point lead QU edged out second place Westfield State University and third place University of Southern Maine. Quinnipiac also finished first in the Partner Stunts Division beating out their rival team Southern Connecticut State University.
Many cheerleaders and student spectators were pleased with the turnout of this year’s cheerleading competition.
Michelle Mancini, co-captain of the QU cheerleading squad was pleased with the traffic flow of people going in and out of the gym during the two-day event.
“They split the competition up well,” said Mancini. “There was just enough people in the stands and it wasn’t over crowded.”
Junior Kristen Pedicone, a QU cheerleader agreed with Mancini. “I like the two day festival because that way everyone isn’t crammed into one gym.”
Pedicone said she was amazed with the support from the fans, “With a home advantage there was more spirit in the stands, but overall the crowd was supportive to all the teams.”
According to Bill Mecca, assistant athletic director at Quinnipiac, the cheerleader’s head coach Maryann Corvi gave Coe a ringing endorsement to start up the competition. Mecca and Keith Woodward, assistant director of facilities, were approached about the idea and felt that the competition would give good exposure to the athletic department as well as the QU cheerleaders.
“This competition gives the community and the state of Connecticut the chance to see what Quinnipiac is all about,” said Mecca.
Mancini commended Coe for all her hard work in setting up this competition.
“Robin had members of the association assigned to their own little job and she was very relaxed during the day. She had faith that everything would run smoothly.”