MIDLAND UTPB Spirit Coordinator and Head Cheer Coach Terry Lynn Lane says they have about 96 practices until their NCA College Finals competition in Daytona Beach, Fla., in April.
There are 24 cheerleaders and two Freddies (the mascot). Lane also is in charge of the eight-member dance team.
The cheerleaders go to elementary and middle schools and perform at basketball, football and volleyball games. They also get involved in community activities, such as parades, Lane said.
This is the squad’s first national bid.
Monday they had mat tryouts at her studio, Legacy Elite, in Midland.
“Not everyone can make mat for Daytona,” Lane said.
They will do one cheer routine and have Freddy on the mat, as well. Lane said it’s not unusual to have the mascot with the cheerleaders.
“Some schools choose to do it; others don’t, but we chose to do it,” Lane said.
“We have about 96 practices from now until Daytona. We normally practice at UTPB. We practiced here because they just redid our floors at UTPB, and so it’s hard for us to get our mats on right now so we just decided to come here instead of having to bring mats and figure out where we can put them,” Lane said.
Alexandria Bell, Brianna Johnson and Jericho Florez are all looking forward to their national appearance.
Bell has been on the team for a year; Johnson for four; and Florez is in his fifth year.
“Honestly, I think it’s really exciting being a new team. Our school has never (gotten) a bid to go to nationals, so I think it’s really exciting and with our team and how connected we are I think we have a good chance of really being able to compete with the other teams that have been there before,” Bell said.
Johnson said this is a great step for the community, UTPB and Odessa as a whole.
“Because as we continue to grow and develop this program, it’ll bring talented athletes in and we’ll be able to really build a legacy based on what we’ve started and the work that we’ve put in this year, regardless of what happens once we get there so long as we continue to work,” Johnson said.
Florez said they are considered an underdog as it is their first year of national competition.
“However, we’re not letting that stop our drive and motivation. We want to show that this program isn’t just some little small town college. We can bring it and I think we’re going to do everything we can to hang with the people that have been there repeatedly and give everything,” Florez said.
They have all watched the national competitions on TV.
“We’re hungry. That’s our edge,” Johnson said.
Bell added that she thinks everybody on the team is ready to work for it.
“I feel like since there’s no film on us, no one can really watch and see what we’re bringing to the table until we show up and bring it. I feel like that gives you an advantage because nobody knows what we’re capable of,” Florez said.
Johnson recalled that a few years ago with COVID, the team almost dissolved completely.
“We didn’t have a coach. We were trying to meet as just the athletes, and so once Terry Lynn came in last year, we were really able to start from ground zero, humble ourselves, build, recruit and just stay eager, stay focused and stay motivated,” Johnson said. “The fact that we’re able now to compete on a national stage is no small thing — even just getting to go.”
Bell came to the team about the same time as Lane.
“I want to say honestly that Terry has really been a great coach. She’s really pushed everybody to get better. Me personally, I hadn’t cheered for a whole year after foot surgery and she already has me back in here. I’m one-man stunting. I’m working on my back tuck. That’s a lot of progress for just one year. I think Terry’s just really ready to get this team where it needs to be for nationals,” Bell said.
Florez noted that the team has received more support recently than in the past.
“She’s showing hey these cheerleaders are talented and let’s showcase it,” Florez said.
He added that UTPB has jumped on board and given them support.
“I also feel like that’s a driving factor. I want to give back to them. They’re giving their all into us” so it’s only fair for the team to give back to UTPB, Florez said.