Cheerleaders travel to Anaheim for 2014 competition

Kurtis Gosney/Sun Star Reporter

April 8, 2014

The Alaska Nanooks Cheer squad traveled to Anaheim, Calif. where they competed in the 2014 national championships late last March, Despite losing their head coach in February and only having 12 members. The competition took place at the Anaheim Convention Center where the Nanooks competed against 10 other schools within their division.

“It’s huge,” said senior Biological Sciences student and team member Courtney Sessum. “They had collegiate at the same as all-stars this year. I would say Anaheim was nothing but cheerleaders at that point.”

Chynna Sandgren, who has been on the team for the last three years, said her experience was “surreal.”

“It’s a bunch of college teams that we don’t really get to see in Alaska all coming together,” Sandgren said. “It’s a bunch of fun and it’s a lot of chaos for two days, but you meet a bunch of other people and you gain friendships, and then you get to do something you love to do.”

Sessum, who has been on the team for the last two years, had similar thoughts about her team’s experience. She also said that teams from the Lower 48 get to practice more often through the course of the year, whereas the Nanooks do not get quite as much time. “It’s very different,” Sessum said. “Especially from Alaskan cheerleaders. We only get certain hours on the mat and stuff because cheerleading is a new sport for Alaska Fairbanks.” Another aspect of the Nanooks’ experience, according to Sessum, was the opportunity to mingle with some of the other teams during the competition. “It’s not a hostile environment like everybody thinks it is,” Sessum explained. “Everybody’s really friendly and you can make friends that will last a lifetime there. It’s definitely worth the pain and gain I would say.”

According to Sandgren, the team only had about two and a half weeks to prepare for the competition. “We definitely had to be in the gym a lot more than we had planned,” Sandgren said. “And we had to change our routine a little bit to compensate for those who were no longer there.” Sandgren also spoke about the Nanooks’ transition to their new coach, but said there wasn’t much of a problem with it. “It was a lot different,” Sandgren acknowledged, “But our new coach had been with us all season. The girls came together and we were able to get it done. It’s different having someone else in charge, but we were able to do it just fine.”

As of Sunday night, the Nanooks did not know what the full results of the competition were. They did say that the results should be announced sometime within the next week. Whatever the result is, the Nanooks did not have high expectations this year. “To be honest, we didn’t expect to win especially with such a short number,” Sessum said. “Most teams we went up against had 20 to 30 people on their team and we had 12. So our expectations were to go there and have a good time and do the best that we can.”

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