STORY BY ALLIE RODRIGUEZ, STAFF WRITER
STORY EDITED BY SPORTS EDITOR CHRIS POUNDS
It’s more than just the game. It’s the students, the fans, the school spirit! What about the cheerleaders?
The National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament is what March Madness is all about. This year March Madness began on March 14 when the top 68 teams in men’s Division I college basketball hit the courts seeking the title of NCAA Champions. Each team has earned a spot to be in the tournament, but there are also others who warrant a position on that coveted floor.
Cheerleading is a large part of the NCAA tournament. Cheerleaders are present on the sidelines, often tumbling and performing stunts, or leading chants to pump up the crowd. Cheerleaders represent the school spirit, supporting their team and keeping the momentum of the crowd up, even in the most difficult times.
Although cheerleading is not considered a NCAA sport, many of the tournament basketball teams have cheerleaders for their programs, to engage and entertain the fans.
Sabrina Latapy, Xavier University cheerleader, is a junior Marketing major also minoring in Business Analytics, Finance, and French. This is Latapy’s 13th year of cheerleading and it is a hard one to top. Xavier University made the NCAA tournament this year, making it to the Elite Eight before losing to Gonzaga 59-83.
There is so much going on for cheerleaders during the school year. In addition to studies, Xavier cheerleaders practice almost daily preparing for games and competitions. “I enjoy stunting the most. I like the challenge it brings when you have to work with different people and try to figure it out together,” stated Latapy.
“Traveling for the NCAA tournament was classy,” added Latapy. “From private jets to fancy hotel rooms, and fabulous locations. My hair and makeup was professionally done 90% of the time.”
“We received money for food each day, and had a charter bus at our disposal. This was my third-year travelling with my beloved Muskies and this year, they made me very proud. Coming together as a team to play some great basketball” said Latapy.
Ohio had three teams, University of Dayton, Xavier, and University of Cincinnati, qualify for the 2017 NCAA tournament, with only Xavier making it to the Elite Eight before losing on March 25.
Let’s take a closer look at a cheerleader who will be cheering for a team heading to the Final Four!
Veronika Rowe is junior psychology major, cheering for her second year on the University of Oregon Cheer team. Rowe danced competitively for 13 years prior to becoming a cheerleader. “I love everything that comes along with being a cheerleader. I grew up a Ducks fan and wanted to be a cheerleader from the age of 4 when I went to my first Oregon Football game,” stated Rowe.
The University of Oregon upset #1 seeded Kansas 74-60, earning a spot in the Final Four. Oregon will face the University of North Carolina on April 1, at 8:49pm in the semifinals.
“The fans make the experience, cheering and dancing for such a big audience is such a big thrill! Going to the NCAA tournament is incredible; cheering in such a huge and loud stadium is so surreal,” added Rowe.
For any game, and especially a big game, athletes typically have a game day ritual. “For a big game, my three roommates for away trips and I have been jamming out to the new Drake album,
while helping each other get ready,” said Rowe.
The big game is just days away. The semifinals will be played on Saturday, April 1, 2017 and televised on CBS. The first game is scheduled to begin at 6:09 p.m. with #7 South Carolina facing #1 Gonzaga. The second game, #3 Oregon against #1 UNC, will follow game one, with tip off scheduled for 8:49 p.m.
The winner of each semifinal game will compete in the championship game on Monday, April 3, 2017.
Fun Cheer Leading Facts
I like the challenge it brings when you have to work with different people and try to figure it out together,” stated Latapy.