The Natick High School fall cheerleading team recently returned from NCA Nationals in Dallas, where they finished in third place in the Large Advanced Coed division (the highest level) while being recognized for the best use of stunting.
“This year my varsity team works very well together,” coach Dave Lombardi said. “They are the definition of team. My mentality and motto is you have to work hard to achieve it. We lost a lot of seniors. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year, but we worked hard.”
The NCA Nationals were held at the Dallas Convention Center, and the team got to practice at Cheer Athletics, one of the largest cheer gyms in the world, while they were in Dallas. The two-day competition is decided by adding up the scores from the two days. After the first day, Natick was in fourth place.
“If we had done a little better Day 1 we would’ve killed it,” Lombardi said.
It’s possible the team could’ve been a bit nervous on the first day, as only three members of the team had ever competed at Nationals. Those three, now seniors, did so as freshmen.
“It’s different than a regular competition,” Aimee LeBlanc, one of three senior captains, said about Nationals. “The lights, the crowd- we were in a stadium. We know the competition [in Massachusetts], but not there.”
The second day gave Natick a chance to really prove they belonged at Nationals and show everyone what they could do, and that’s what they did.
“You could just feel it on the mat,” Erin McGovern, a senior captain, said when asked about the second day at Nationals. “The crowd loved it.”
“I thought we had it,” added fellow captain Julia Edwards.
It was a long road filled with hard work to get to Dallas.
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First, the Natick cheerleaders competed in the Bay State League, where they defeated Norwood to win the Coed division. They then won the Regional competition at Dartmouth High before coming in second at the States (Revere won). Natick qualified for Nationals with a score of 163. They’ve gone to Nationals before, although never the competition in Dallas; previously, they competed in Florida at a National Competition under a different company.
All three captains were four-year varsity cheerleaders, and the fact that they competed at Nationals as freshmen and then didn’t have that opportunity again until their senior year has really made them realize how difficult it is to get there.
“You don’t go to Nationals every year,” Edwards said. “You have to work really hard.”
Since they reached Nationals three years ago, though, it’s the one thing they’ve been striving to achieve.
“Since we’ve been captains our only goal was Nationals,” McGovern said.
Said Edwards, “I’m proud we finally got our goal.”
To watch the Natick cheerleaders' performance at Nationals, click here and it's the fourth video down on the right side of the screen.