By Samara Garmon
Xavier university hosted the largest National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) cheer and dance competition on Feb. 9, 2023. And the kick-off event was a tribute to HBCU culture. XULA Cheer defended their title as National Champions after becoming the first HBCU to win the national cheer competition and the first team in university sports to win a national title. Xavier’s cheer team made history in 2022 with a score of 93.7 out of 100, and went on to make national headlines.
“It feels really great to have our Xavier fans cheer us on, it’s great to see so many HBCU’s here, and it’s great to see all these cheerleaders starting their career as a cheer family”, said Xavier cheerleader Tia Barrett.
Fans showed up with their gold and black merch in support for the cheerleaders in “The Battle in The Big Easy.” The crowd went crazy in support of the team who had been rehearsing since August for the competition. This was Coach Glenn Caston’s last year as co-ed competitive cheer head coach but he is shared he was determined to give it his best. He received the NAIA Coach of the Year award in 2022 and was also selected as the vice president of the NAIA Cheer Coaches Association.
“I love watching all the different schools show out and represent their cities, and I love watching all different types of people come together and watch the competition,” said freshman Kalia Overton.
It was clear in the competition that Xavier did not come to play. In this intense competition Xavier had many different competitors. Schools like Montreat College, Florida Memorial University and Our Lady of the Lake University were some of the tough competitors Xavier faced. On the opening evening, the tournament featured a performing band with all the competitors and the coaches, as well as Greek organizations who participated in a stroll.
The event recognized a few individuals including Dr. Angel Bettis, the alumni chapter president who has worked in support of bringing opportunities for student athletes. On the panel there were four judges, who assessed the teams for creativity and rigor in their performances.
“I enjoyed all the different activities and performances, and I hope to see Xavier make it to nationals. Go Gold Diggas,” said Xavier freshman Anaya Moore.