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Coronavirus cancellations dash the UTA cheer team's hopes for a seventh national championship win

Coronavirus cancellations dash the UTA cheer team's hopes for a seventh national championship win

The UTA cheer team set its sights on a seventh national championship when they began practicing for The National Cheerleaders Association Collegiate National Championship in October.

Sunday night, the dream of winning another title vanished when NCA canceled this year’s event in accordance with new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Coronavirus cancellations dash the UTA cheer team's hopes for a seventh national championship win

Kinesiology graduate student Chaston Abut, left, and kinesiology junior Alexus Guevarra twist through the air during a practice March 12 at the Maverick Activities Center. Abut and Guevarra are executing a tumbling skilled called a full twisting layout.

It was gut wrenching hearing nationals had been canceled because of the amount of work they had put in for a chance to win, music industry sophomore Shelby Stone said.

Broadcasting graduate student Zac Park was getting ready to celebrate his birthday when he heard nationals were canceled. At first he felt anger and then sadness, admitting that he cried in front of his friends over the news.

Park, who won three championships previously, decided to return for his fifth year after failing to claim a title last year. He returned to the team because he wanted the newer members to experience winning at Daytona.

Coronavirus cancellations dash the UTA cheer team's hopes for a seventh national championship win

UTA cheer team national championship rings sit on a trophy during a practice March 12 at the Maverick Activities Center. The team competes in Division One Small Co-Ed and has won six championships.

Coronavirus cancellations dash the UTA cheer team's hopes for a seventh national championship win

Music industry sophomore Shelby Stone celebrates after hitting a stunt during a UTA cheer team practice Feb. 21 at the Maverick Activities Center. Prior to spring break, the cheer team practiced three times a week for three hours.

Traditionally, the team members run into the ocean in their uniforms with their trophy and banner to celebrate winning a championship, Park said.

The best moment is being in the ocean with your friends and family, celebrating the win and the work it took over the past year, Park said.

Beginning in the fall semester, the team practiced at least three times a week and cheered at all home volleyball and basketball games, said Trey Beaty, assistant spirit coordinator and head cheerleading coach.

Coronavirus cancellations dash the UTA cheer team's hopes for a seventh national championship win

Kinesiology junior Alexus Guevarra tumbles as teammates engage in mat talk during a UTA cheer team practice March 12 at the Maverick Activities Center. Mat talk is a specific form of cheering and encouragement during the routine.

Coronavirus cancellations dash the UTA cheer team's hopes for a seventh national championship win

Social work senior Karina Alvarez cheers while being lifted during a basketball game Feb. 28 at College Park Center. The cheer team is a fixture on the sidelines for basketball and volleyball games.

Practices ramped up in intensity with the arrival of spring break as the team practiced 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

At that point in the season, your body is just dying on the inside, Park said.

Coronavirus cancellations dash the UTA cheer team's hopes for a seventh national championship win

Meghan Northcutt, interior design and architecture sophomore, gathers herself on the mat after a collision during a UTA cheer team practice March 12 at the Maverick Activities Center. Northcutt is a bottom base during the pyramid and is in her second year with the team.

Coronavirus cancellations dash the UTA cheer team's hopes for a seventh national championship win

The UTA cheer team performs a trio of back tuck baskets during a practice March 12 in the Maverick Activities Center. The team practiced five straight days from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. during spring break.

Those days included tumbling, stunts, jumps and walk-throughs to learn choreography.

Despite the fatigue, the team was able to meet its goal and complete its first “full-out,” performing the routine fully with all elements performed, on the first Thursday of spring break.

Coronavirus cancellations dash the UTA cheer team's hopes for a seventh national championship win

Social work senior Karina Alvarez is caught while dismounting from a pyramid during a UTA cheer team practice March 7 at the Maverick Activities Center. A pyramid can be made with up to three layers of people and includes various stunts.

Coronavirus cancellations dash the UTA cheer team's hopes for a seventh national championship win

Kinesiology junior Alexus Guevarra has her ankle taped prior to a UTA cheer team practice March 12 at the Maverick Activities Center. Athletic trainers are a major part of the team, providing preventative and supportive care to athletes.

Although the season ended abruptly after spring break, Park said he believes that UTA would’ve won a seventh national championship.

He hopes future Mavericks will continue their journey, despite this setback, with the same mentality and drive they had this year.

“I will definitely be in Daytona 2021 to see UTA compete on the bandshell,” Park said.

Coronavirus cancellations dash the UTA cheer team's hopes for a seventh national championship win

Accounting sophomore Kaydee Klund performs a stunt as part of a basket toss during a UTA cheer team practice March 12 at the Maverick Activities Center. Klund performs three elite skills during the toss, which requires four spotters.

Coronavirus cancellations dash the UTA cheer team's hopes for a seventh national championship win

Members of the UTA cheer team toss nursing sophomore Darian Williams into the air during a UTA cheer team practice March 7 at the Maverick Activities Center. The stunt requires four people, including a flyer, two bases and a back spot.

Coronavirus cancellations dash the UTA cheer team's hopes for a seventh national championship win

Accounting sophomore Kaydee Klund performs a toe touch during a UTA cheer team practice Feb. 21 at the Maverick Activities Center. All members of the team are required perform three connected jumps during the routine.

Coronavirus cancellations dash the UTA cheer team's hopes for a seventh national championship win

Nursing sophomore Darian Williams helps painting sophomore Audrey Jeanes stretch before a UTA cheer team practice March 7 in the Maverick Activities Center. Stretching and calisthenics are key parts of warming up for the team.

Coronavirus cancellations dash the UTA cheer team's hopes for a seventh national championship win

Social work senior Karina Alvarez flies during a stunt at a UTA cheer team practice Feb. 21 at the Maverick Activities Center. Alvarez was the flyer for one of three stunt groups.

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