Delaware spirit teams win paid bids to nationals
The 2008 University of Delaware cheerleading team, with mascot YoUDee, is preparing for nationals.
The 2008 University of Delaware dance team will compete at nationals.
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8:36 a.m., Nov. 26, 2008----The University of Delaware's cheerleading, dance and mascot teams will enter their respective national championship competitions in January with an advantage.

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All three teams won paid bids to the Universal Cheerleaders Association College Cheerleading and Dance National Championships scheduled for Jan. 16-18, 2009, in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Fla. UCA will cover their airfare and hotel accommodations.

Teams qualify for the competition by submitting entry videos of their routines. UD's videos took first place in the division in the categories of dance team, mascot and partner stunts.

Cheerleaders Ben Schreiber, a graduate student, and Gillian Guadagnino, a senior, came in first in the partner stunt qualifying competition. The pair submitted a video featuring one minute of their best stunts choreographed to music. Their teammates, senior Jon Lee and freshman Lauren Greco, took 18th place in the same category.

The cheerleading squad as a whole ranked second in its division. Coach Andy Brown said the team came in just a handful of points behind the first place squad.

“We're in a spot to go down there to shock the first place team,” he said. “They don't know how close we really are.”

He has full confidence his team will wow the crowd in Orlando.

“We are a really young squad and we have not come close to peaking yet,” he said, noting that for six of the 16 members competing, this is their first year on the squad. “We have a lot of potential for growth.”

“This is so awesome,” said UD mascot coordinator Sharon Harris, associate director of communications and marketing.

Harris says the video submitted on behalf of YoUDee included clips from a wide variety of events, showcasing the mascot's talents.

“All of the teams work so hard and put in a lot of hours for their video entries,” she said. “The University of Delaware will be well represented at the national competition.”

This is the second year the dance team will arrive with a paid bid. Dance team coach Nicole Daliessio-Zehnder says that is “a reward all in itself.”

Her team actually shot two entry videos. Daliessio-Zehnder said the first didn't capture what she knew her team could do. So, the team members performed for another taping, one that began at 5:30 a.m. Their coach said they “nailed it.”

“There was a lot of enjoyment. You could see it in their dancing,” Daliessio-Zehnder said.

The teams look forward to arriving in Orlando, primed to win. Daliessio-Zehnder said she knows there will be a large contingent of Hens fans there to cheer on the spirit teams.

Article by Andrea Boyle