Welcome to Interview #42.
I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of NCAA Division 1 Cheerleading Coach and Assistant Spirit Coordinator of Radford University, Geoffrey Neely.
Coach Geoffrey Neely is wrapping up his second year as the Head Cheerleading Coach and Assistant Spirit Coordinator Radford University. He is also the Head Club Cheerleading Coach for Virginia Tech and a professional member through USA Gymnastics. Coach Neely has ten years of cheerleading experience and has coached for the past seven years.
I am a high school cheerleader, how do I understand cheer squads, competitive cheer, dance? What are my different options in college?
Every college’s program is different, mainly depending on university size and program funding. In regards to competition, most programs no longer participate in all-star events. If the team is eligible, college competition falls into two different programs, NCA/NDA and UCA/UDA. Although very similar in concept, the programs differ in style and routine structure.
Generally a spirit program will consist of dance and cheer teams. Some universities have multiple dance and cheer squads while others simply have one of each respective team. Depending on the university’s athletics program, sideline cheer and dance are a large part of these sports at the collegiate level. Some programs are simply sideline. Public appearances, pep rallies, camps, and clinics are also large parts of successful programs.
Radford University is a Division 1 school with a small coed competitive cheerleading squad and a dance team. Both teams are defending finalists at NCA/NDA collegiate nationals and have partial paid bids to compete in this year’s event in April. Our program has a main goal of supporting our intercollegiate sports teams while also defending our success in Daytona at the end of the season.
Are competitive cheer and dance under the NCAA regulations? I saw cheer is under the NCA. What kind of rules and regulations are there?
American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Advisors (ACCA). This organization governs general safety rules.
And depending on which program your spirit squads compete in, NCA/NDA or UCA/UDA.
Are there scholarships?
Scholarships for cheerleading are few and far between. Neither Radford, nor Roanoke, nor Virginia Tech has scholarship opportunities for their athletes. Depending on some programs and their funding, some schools provide amenities such as free apparel, free travel, competition fees, hotel stays, cash allowance during travel, access to training staff, strength/conditioning coaches, preferred priority for classes, etc.
Does compliance work the same way as other sports?
Do you recruit or just hold tryouts for kids who are on campus or incoming freshmen?
Radford University holds two tryouts a year for cheer and dance. One in the spring before the summer of the upcoming season and one after school has begun for the year in the fall. Tryouts are open to the entire student body, but I do have specific skill requirements for placement. Generally, I take the bulk of my squad in the spring, take them to camp during the summer, and simply “pad” the squad or take athletes with specific stunting positions in September.
How do you find athletes?
We do not recruit, but performance at NCA nationals in Daytona in April is streamed worldwide and serves as a great advertisement for those athletes still eager for competition in college.
How much overlap is there between cheering before a crowd, competitive cheer squads and dance squads?
The dance and cheer squads perform and practice together rather frequently here at Radford. We attend soccer games, make appearances at pumpkin patches, and practice together two times throughout the week. At 6.00 a.m. Yep, 6.00 a.m.
Do you have the same access to the athletic training staff as other sports? What is your interaction with trainers, especially for competitive cheer which I imagine has its share of injuries?
Our access and interaction with trainers and strength/conditioning coaches are the same as all other sports. We are very thankful for our athletic training program and have a trainer specifically assigned to our squads.
Coach Geoffrey Neely is wrapping up his second year as the Assistant Spirit Coordinator and Head Cheerleading Coach at Radford University. He is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a Bachelor’s degree in traditional Mathematics.
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