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2017 NAIA Competitive Cheer and Dance National Championships Preview

March 07, 2017
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By Chad Waller, Director of Athletics Communications and Sports Media

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – History will be made March 10-11 in Oklahoma City, Okla., as the first-ever NAIA National Championships will be conducted in the sports of Competitive Cheer and Competitive Dance (CCD). Oklahoma City University serves as host of this exciting event. The NAIA is the only collegiate athletics association to offer a national championship in these sports.

Routines begin with the preliminary round of cheer competition at 4:30 p.m. CST on Friday in Abe Lemons Arena. Dance preliminary competition is scheduled to begin at 6:45 p.m. On Saturday, the finals in each of the two sports take place at 10 a.m. (cheer) and 12:15 p.m. (dance) with the awards ceremony set to go at 2:25 p.m.

The championship field is comprised of eight qualifying group team champions (four dance, four cheer), which won their respective qualifier group event, held Feb. 24-25 at four campus locations. In addition to that group, 16 at-large berths filled out the 24-team national championships. At-large berths were awarded to teams with the highest qualifying team score amongst the entire field competing at all four qualifiers. In all, 12 teams will compete in the Dance competition and 12 programs will participate in the Cheer competition.

Adding the 24th and 25th national championship sports to the NAIA line-up is an exciting time for the student-athletes, coaches, teams, institutions and the Association. The evolution of the sport began in 2009 when the NAIA-CCD Executive Coaches Committee was formed. Since that time, a Coaches’ Manual was published and the first-ever CCD rule book was created. The national championship status became official at the 75th annual NAIA National Convention (April 16, 2016) when membership approved the motion.

“Adding Competitive Cheer and Dance as an NAIA Championship Sport has been an extremely exciting thing,” said Lynsey Payne, Baker University (Kan.) head coach and CCD Executive Committee Member. “Many schools are receiving more funding and better scholarships, and student athletes can now be recognized for their achievements both on and off the competition floor and mat.

It has been exciting to be a part of this too, the coaches and staff at the NAIA literally wrote the rulebook; no one else is doing anything like what we are. Having a NAIA National Championship with a qualification system adds a higher level of competition than you might get at some other events we have attended in the past.”

Competitive Cheer and Dance is the first to earn national championship status within the NAIA in a span of 22 years – NAIA Women’s Golf became a championship sport prior to the spring of 1995.

Prior to national championships status, CCD showed signs of success at the National Invitational level for a two-year period. Martin Methodist (Tenn.) won the 2016 National Invitational championship in cheer, while St. Ambrose (Iowa) took home the National Invitational hardware in dance.

2017 Competitive Cher National Championship Qualifiers
Teams listed alphabetically

Teams Qualification
Bethel (Kan.) At – Large Bid
Concordia (Mich.) At – Large Bid
Davenport (Mich.) Northeast Qualifier Champion
Indiana Wesleyan At – Large Bid
Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.) At – Large Bid
Lourdes (Ohio) At – Large Bid
MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) Northwest Qualifier Champion
Missouri Valley Southeast Qualifier Champion
Oklahoma City Southwest Qualifier Champion
St. Ambrose (Iowa) At – Large Bid
Saint Francis (Ind.) At – Large Bid
St. Gregory's (Okla.) At – Large Bid

2017 Competitive Dance National Championship Qualifiers
Teams listed alphabetically

Teams Qualification
Aquinas (Mich.) Northeast Qualifier Champion
Baker (Kan.) At – Large Bid
Central Methodist (Mo.) At – Large Bid
Grand View (Iowa) Southeast Qualifier Champion
Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.) At – Large Bid
Midland (Neb.) Northwest Qualifier Champion
Missouri Baptist At – Large Bid
Morningside (Iowa) At – Large Bid
Oklahoma City Southwest Qualifier Champion
Siena Heights (Mich.) At – Large Bid
St. Ambrose (Iowa) At – Large Bid
Stephens (Mo.) At – Large Bid
Competitive Cheer & Dance Student-Athletes:

Beginning with the Fall 2015 term, all first-time NAIA Competitive Cheer and Dance student-athletes will need to have an “Eligible” decision from the NAIA Eligibility Center before participating in competition.

The Eligibility Center is already accepting and completing Early Decisions for qualified students.

Do you need to register at PlayNAIA.org? The answer is “yes” if:

• You are currently in high school

• You do not currently attend an NAIA college or university, regardless of participation in Competitive Cheer and Dance

• You attend an NAIA college or university but have NOT previously competed in Competitive Cheer and Dance

• You have previously participated in Competitive Cheer and Dance at an NAIA school but did NOT receive an eligibility certification from your school.