Croup’s Corner – Dancing all the way to the top

Written By Josh Croup, Sports Columnist

The cheer and dance teams both knew they had realistic shots to make it to nationals this year when they began practicing in
the fall.

Few programs start with such high standards, but the cheer and dance teams knew what it was going to take in order to get over the hump and make it to nationals.

They were both on the outside looking in after last year’s National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Regional Qualifier, but much of last year’s squad returned for year two, with some new additions that added to a strong mix. The cheer team finished ninth at regionals last year and the dance team placed fourth.

They both placed second at this year’s regional qualifier, barely missing the automatic bid to nationals earned by the top finisher in each regional competition.

But the dance team took home one of the at-large bids to nationals and took off for Oklahoma City last weekend for the biggest meet in the two-year history of the program.

It was also the second-ever NAIA Cheer and Dance National Championship. The NAIA began offering competitive cheer and dance as a sport last year and Point Park, one of the top dance schools in the country to begin with, signed on to compete.

The NAIA is the only collegiate athletics association that has a national cheer and dance championship.

12 teams competed at the national dance championship. Only three finished above Point Park.

A fourth-place national finish in the second year of a program? We’ll take it.

All three teams that placed above Point Park have strong all-around programs, with each school fielding teams in both the cheer and dance championships. Host school Oklahoma City finished second in each event.

The cheer and dance teams are the second new program at Point Park that has experienced success on the national level. The track and field teams are now in their fourth year and have had multiple NAIA All-Americans and this year had first-place finishes on the podium at nationals.

It takes an army to build a successful program, led by a strong head coach, administration and support staff that contribute to laying the foundation for success. Both programs have all of those ingredients.

Of course, it also takes a roster of leaders to buy into those leaders and the system, trusting each other and supporting each other throughout the process.

The cheer team did not make nationals, but the athletes who did not overlap teams were supportive of their dance teammates who were representing the new program.

Many of the leaders on the team that bought into what the program was selling were part of the team before it was even considered one.

The cheer and dance team was a club as recently as two years ago. They performed at halftime for the basketball teams and that was pretty much it. There were no competitions, no intense travel, nothing compared to what the team has now.

Those are the athletes that helped Bettina Herold build the program to what it is today: one of the top cheer teams in the region and the fourth-best dance team in the nation. That’s something to be proud of and continue into next year.

The teams lose some important seniors after this year who helped give the program its identity. But that identity, after this successful season, is stronger than anyone could have hoped when the program began two years ago.