University of Delaware
National champion YoUDee, with the UD Dance Team.

Blue Hen spirit

UD spirit teams among best at national championships


1:03 p.m., Jan. 23, 2012--YoUDee, the first mascot in the First State, finished first and the University of Delaware cheerleading and dance teams placed near the top at the Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) College Cheerleading and Dance National Championships, held Jan. 13-15 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

For the fourth time in 11 years, YoUDee won the UCA’s open mascot division, finishing ahead of Villanova, Tennessee Tech and Arkansas State universities.

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The UD cheerleaders finished second in the Division I championships and the dance team, also in Division I, took second place in the hip-hop finals and ninth in the jazz finals.

YoUDee mascot team

“The mascot team worked vey hard to prepare for their national mascot skit, and their dedication paid off,” said Sharon Harris, assistant director in the Office of Communications and Marketing and coordinator of the mascot program. “I couldn’t be more proud of their accomplishment. Great job, mascot team!”

First year mascot team member Grace Relf, a senior from Boise, Idaho, an Honors Program student who is majoring in energy and environmental policy, said, “We put in a lot of hard work, and winning made the whole experience worthwhile. It was also fun meeting the mascots from other schools and seeing all of the talented people on the cheerleading and dance teams.” 

Senior team leader Andrew Davis, an engineering major from Dover, Del., said that putting on the skit can be stressful but also satisfying when things go as planned and nothing breaks. 

“Every time a prop works or people laugh at a joke, you have a little sigh of relief,” Davis said. “If you can make people forget about their everyday problems for even just one minute and get them to laugh at some cool thing you did, then the whole thing is totally worth it.” 


With new members comprising just over half the squad, the cheerleading team had to work extremely hard to compete at the national championship level, said Ben Schreiber, spirit coordinator for UD Recreation Services and cheerleading coach.

“The team came together in a special way and battled through adversity to achieve a second place finish,” Schreiber said. “I am very proud of what this team was able to accomplish this year.” 

Adriana Rodriguez, a senior urban affairs and public policy major from Bethlehem, Pa., said going to the nationals with a lot of new team members was a rewarding experience.

“For me, it was unlike any other year, because it would be my last year with the team at the nationals,” Rodriguez said. “It was a good learning experience, and we received a lot of support from team members from other schools.” 

The most exciting part of the whole weekend was the two and one-half minutes of competition in which the team performed pyramids, basket tosses and elite stunting routines, said Stephanie Reiner, a junior finance major from Clinton, N.J.

“All of the other teams were watching us because we were the last team to go on,” Reiner said. “Everyone performed to the best of their ability, which is the best you can ask.”

Michael Larocca, a finance major from Westborough, Mass., who graduated during Winter Commencement ceremonies earlier this month, said, “Being able to compete with my teammates allowed me to get to know them better. I’ve made a lot of friends and I know I will stay in contact with them.” 

Dance team

With nine of its 17-member team entering national competition for the first time, veterans stepped up to help their teammates prepare for competition at the highest level, said Nicole K. Daliessio-Zehnder, dance team head coach.

“They proved to their teammates and performers on other teams that they are true and talented competitors,” Daliessio-Zehnder said. “I look forward to seeing them continue the UD Dance Team’s tradition of excellence.” 

Alyssa Scerbak, a freshman University studies major from Nutley, N.J., said that because it was her first trip to the nationals, she "didn’t know that I would be having the time of my life dancing with 16 of my best friends. I can’t wait to do it again next year."

“Being part of the UD Dance Team is such an amazing and rewarding experience,” Michelle Golini, a senior Spanish education major from Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y., said. “I couldn’t be happier with my teammates and the way we performed.”

Article by Jerry Rhodes

Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson

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