Time to shine: Rider cheer team takes on nationals

By Katherine Sukunda

The Rider cheer team will head to Florida this week, concluding its season at the College Classic National Championship in Orlando.

The group said goodbye to fellow Rider students, family and friends with a rehearsal routine hosted in Alumni Gym Sunday evening. 

This will be the team’s first national competition in five seasons, according to Head Coach Vicki Trucksess.

The routine consisted of impressive stunts, as flyers were lifted high into the air, often balancing on one leg, and flipping into the arms of their teammates below. 

The cheerleaders beamed as they formed a pyramid with friends and family cheering them on from the stands. 

The national championship allows athletes from colleges and universities around the country to compete and showcase their skills head-to-head, according to the College Classic website. 

The voyage to nationals is only possible with a crowdfunding effort that accummulated 61.81% of its $10,000 goal.

“They killed it,” said Trucksess after Sunday’s performance.

Trucksess acknowledged the immense progress the team has made since the beginning of the season and the resiliency that got it there.

“It is a totally different team,” said Trucksess. “You’re always going to have setbacks, but they’ve been able to recover from all of those setbacks this year, which is the most important thing. We’ve continued to grow with every practice.”

The coach’s main hope for nationals is to see the team hit a solid routine, regardless of the outcome. 

“Just getting down there is a huge accomplishment for them, for the program and for the university,” said Trucksess. 

Senior cheerleader Rachel Seigerman said that she was thrilled by the opportunity to compete at nationals with her teammates. 

“I am super excited to get to nationals, I have wanted to compete with this team since I first learned about Rider cheer,” said Seigerman. 

However, being a senior means her time on the team is ending after three years, which Seigerman described as devastating. 

Trucksess has worked with many of the seniors since they started their first season, which was set back due to COVID-19.

“When any of your seniors leave, it’s really sad because they’ve helped build that program,” she said.

“I will miss them all dearly, they are some of the funniest people that I have gotten to work with,” said Trucksess with a smile.

Despite Seigerman’s disappointment about her final season coming to an end, she said that she is ready to knock the routine out of the park at nationals.

“Our goal for this season is to hit a nice, clean routine,” she said. “There are big things to come for Rider cheer, and we are just excited that it’s our time to shine.”

Junior cheerleader Daija Wilson expressed her pride in being a part of the first team in several seasons to attend nationals. 

“It’s really exciting to be the first team since COVID to go to nationals, it’s just really cool to be that team,” said Wilson. 

Wilson’s hope for Florida is simply to land a polished performance.

“I don’t think I want to expect to get first place or second place, because we are coming from a break,” she said. 

Wilson pointed out that the Rider cheer team is bouncing back from a significant break, unlike other teams who will be competing, which may contribute to variations in technique and difficulty. 

Assistant coach Stevi Irwin said that she would be proud of the team no matter the competition’s results. 

“We’re super proud of them already,” said Irwin. “From all they have grown throughout the season, we’ll be proud of them either way.” 

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