MUNCIE, INDIANA--- After a few years off because of COVID-19, Ball State’s cheer squad is back at nationals this year. With the team being so inexperienced, 33 year old head coach Wendy Richards did not know where to set her expectations.
“Going into nationals, my expectations for them were just to do the best that they could,” Richards said. “I knew our difficulty levels wouldn’t be where our competitors were because we’re so young.”
With almost no prior experience for most of the team, the bigger crowd and the higher stakes had the Cardinals feeling the butterflies in their stomach. Ball State cheerleader Benjamin Dias expressed the nerves he was feeling going out onto that stage.
“I’m not a nervous guy but when it comes to things like that, like something that I’ve never experienced before, I definitely got nervous,” Dias said.
Ball State was able to squeeze into the finals finishing 7th out of 14 teams. With the team exceeding all expectations, they set the stage come time for finals.
“You never know with a younger team how they’re gonna react,” Richards said. [At] semis, they didn’t know what to expect. [At] finals, sometimes, there’s a little more pressure, but they took it and they went with it. They started it off to where everyone else had to live up to what they did.”
Ball State ended up finishing 7th in the competition, and Richards explained that the competition is not her only favorite part of Nationals, it is sharing a moment with her team.
“When the kids go off the mat and they have that feeling of wow, we did a really good job and they’re so excited, that’s the best part and that’s what we kept talking about,” Richards said. “You wanna get off that floor, and know that you’ve done the best you can do, and that feeling, that exhilaration, it’s unlike anything else.”
With the Cardinals being so young, the sky's the limit for this team in future years to come.
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