AU Community Sends Cheer and Dance to Nationals

Combined team photo of AU's Cheer and Dance teams.

By Kristan Bravo, SOC/BA'18

WASHINGTON - The American University Cheer and Dance Teams are getting set to head to Daytona Beach, Florida, for NCA/NDA Collegiate Nationals this week. 

The AU Cheer and Dance Teams held their annual Friends and Family Nationals Send-Off event on Friday, March 30 in Bender Arena. The event was highly atteneded and the crowd brought energy to the stands as the teams performed the Nationals routines they have been practicing all year. 

"Friday night was special in getting deserved attention for our teams," said AU Cheer captain Sam Doscher. "AU's Cheer and Dance teams were able to gather a great crowd." 

Mika Takahashi attended the Friends and Family event. She is a member of the George Washington University First Ladies Dance team. She says she loves supporting GW's "sister dance team." 

"The turnout to the event was amazing" said Takahashi. "It was so inspiring to see how many people came to cheer on AU Spirit." 

AU Cheer captain Ana Galizia says she was excited to see everyone come out and support the team. "We worked so hard promoting the event, and I'm glad the bleachers were completely filled." 

Galizia is a senior, so this will be her last college nationals. "I am looking forward to competing one last time with this team," said Galizia. "We have been through a lot this year, and I want us to go out with a bang. "

Doscher also reflected on her time as an AU cheerleader, saying she was humbled to be part of something bigger than herself. "Our team has fought hard through injuries on the mat and hardships off the mat, yet we all come in for practice and put our heart into this routine for each other," said Doscher. 

AU Dance Team senior Jenna Cataldi says being on the team is a "defining aspect" of her life. "The lessons and support that my coach and teammates have instilled in me are invaluable, and I can apply everything I have discovered about myself in the process to the real world once I graduate," said Cataldi. 

Jack Szeltner is an AU Cheer alumnus. He graduated from AU's School of Public Affairs in 2014. Szeltner participated in the event as a master of ceremonies, and says he was pleasantly surprised to see so many alumni in attendance to support the spirit program. 

"I was expecting a few alumni, but there were literally dozens, so it was great to see old friends, and get them pumped up for the current roster from the main mat," said Szeltner. 

AU Cheer and Dance will compete on April 5thin preliminary rounds. If they qualify, they will compete in the finals on Friday, April 6.

"I know how hard those girls have worked and can't wait to see them succeed," said Takahashi. 

American University Cheer Coach Ryan Tillery says she is incredibly proud of her team as they head to nationals. "Cheer is not an easy sport," said Tillery. "The way they have to put their bodies on the line is both mentally and physically exhausting; not to mention they are full-time students with jobs, internships, and other extracurricular activities." 

She is looking forward to seeing the team compete in Florida after a challenging season. "Friends and Family proved they are more prepared for this week than they think they are," said Tillery. 

AU Athletics Spirit Coordinator and Dance Team Coach Rachel Southall says she expects both teams to perform even better at nationals than they did at the Friends and Family event. "Our performances should top our best, so I expect them to achieve that goal of hitting their routines," said Southall. 

The AU Cheer and Dance Teams look to continue being two of the top teams in their divisions in the nation. For updates follow the teams on social media.