Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Tide wins second national championship


“Sweet Home Alabama” rang throughout the street as people yelled “Roll Tide!” to passersby. The UA cheerleading squad had captured the 2011 national championship and were the focus of the traditional Universal Cheerleading Association championship block party. But it wasn’t Alabama fans cheering and congratulating the team—it was the team’s competitors.

“After awards, at the hotel and the block party, you would have thought we were back in Alabama,” said junior Caitlin Seabrook. “People were rooting for Alabama as soon as we stepped foot in Orlando. Other teams were so supportive and encouraging. They came to watch us practice, cheered for us while we competed, and congratulated us on our big win. It meant so much to us that people from all over the nation were rooting for Alabama.”

Even before the competition results were announced, the other teams had already noticed Alabama’s hard work, which earned them the respect of their adversaries. Teams at the competition encouraged the Tide throughout the week.

For the past two years the UA cheerleading squad has placed second in the national championship, and for the past three years the University of Kentucky has won. The Tide was able to beat out the reigning champs by 0.02 points to take home the national championship trophy.

“When they called out second place was the University of Kentucky, it took us a second, then we realized we’re the winners now,” said head coach David McDowell. “We were all just in shock for a second or two. It was emotional. It was just an unbelievable experience. We’ve got such great kids and some kids in here who’ve been going at this for four years.”

This was the first time in 27 years that Alabama cheerleading has won a national championship title. The last time the Tide won was in 1984, making this win Alabama’s second cheerleading national championship.

But the win didn’t come easily. In between cheering at all the Alabama football games, home volleyball games, basketball games and gymnastics meets, the team started preparing for the competition in October. In order to qualify to attend the championship competition, each team must send in a tape of all their tricks—stunts, routines, tumbling—only the top 15 teams in the country are able to compete at nationals in January. Alabama placed first in October in the preliminary round, which meant that the Tide received a paid bid to compete in the championship.

The Tide then worked four days a week for at least two and a half hours for the rest of the year until December when two-a-days started. They then left for the Capital One Bowl game to cheer on the football team, but even while they were in Orlando they continued practicing an hour each day. While these practices became difficult, with the help of their coach the team continued to stay focused.

“This year, we definitely had a different mindset,” senior A.J. Buckner said. “We just started working more and wanted to be the best. He brought that mindset into us. [McDowell] brought this program a long way. It was always a competitive team, but he just took it to a whole new level. Everybody looks up to him and respects him a lot. His talent levels, his coaching abilities, he’s a real good coach.”

Even though McDowell has been coaching at Alabama for four years, he’s no rookie to the crimson and white. Back in 1998, McDowell also cheered here, which made the national championship mean even more to him.

“I’m most proud of our kids and making it through all the adversity,” McDowell said. “But, I’m also proud for all the alumni. [This win] is for all those people who worked for this team, who were so close all these years and worked so hard and it never paid off with a win. That’s what we’re all proud of—that we can give that back to those alumni as a way to say thank you to them for helping us lay the foundation.”

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