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The spirit teams pose with their trophies.
The spirit teams pose with their trophies.

OLLU Spirit Makes Program History at Nationals in Daytona

DAYTONA, FLA. (April 16, 2024) - The Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) competitive cheer, dance and drumline teams competed on the national stage at Daytona this past weekend. The spirit programs reached new heights and marked first-time appearances in OLLU's history. The drumline team competed for the first time in program history. 

The Saints had two different performances at Daytona. The dance squad showcased the Dance Team Performance, and the Game Day Performance was made up of dance, cheer and drumline. The Dance Team Performance debuted their routine in the semifinals on Thursday. They earned third place out of 11 other NAIA programs and moved on to the finals having been in the top six. The team received a score of 83.3 and competed against Oklahoma City University, Aquinas College, Roosevelt University, Missouri Baptist University, Ottawa University, University of Pikeville, University of the Cumberlands, Hastings College, Texas Wesleyan University and Columbia College. The Saints ended up finishing in third place after the final round with a score of 83.4. Madicela Perez, Madison Smith, Yasmine Escobar, Isabella Arroyo, Iyana Robinson, Juliana Eigel, Jo Ann Mynar Melendez and Isis Almanza represented the Saints.

Head Coach Crystal Brock said, "Our routine was challenging and one of our favorites to date. Huge shoutout to TJ Maple, our team competition choreographer. We have made many changes and enhanced our skills throughout our season. We benefit from having eight athletes on the mat creating great visuals and staging variations that are appealing to our judges. Eight performers are the most we have had compete on any stage competitively. Every year we learn how to be better for the next year and we continue to grow and make improvements for performance quality. Going into finals we knew we had to step up our technique and hit all our skills with perfection. Unfortunately, we had a few falls out of team triple pirouettes but managed to end with positive results. With so many athletes returning next season, we will be going back to Daytona with more experienced performers and an additional perspective for our rookies to learn from. I'm so proud of our Captain and only dance senior Madicela Perez. She has been such a dynamic asset to our entire program. We will be continuing our time with Perez as she joins us as a graduate assistant for 2024-2025. We have been working together for eight years, as she was a recruit from Brennan High School, where I directed her dance team, she knows and understands my expectations and coaching style. We reached our goal, to come home with hardware and show all our supporters what we already knew about our team, we are here and Living our Legacy."

The Game Day Performance started on Friday and also took third place in both the semifinals and finals. The judges scored their semifinals performance at 71.5 and the finals routine at 73.8. Navarro College, East Texas Baptist University and North Carolina Wesleyan University competed alongside OLLU. This was the first time Game Day Performance competed in the category. The Dance Team Performance members were joined by Skylar Lloyd, Deann Ortega, Ember Sandoval, Darian Saldana, Brynlee Lloyd, Ginobili Cobarrubias, Angelina Ochoa, Leah Chanette, Daphne Flores-Gonzales, Ben Cavazos, Sean Lin, Brandon Wehman, Cristina Serrano and Mia Hernandez. They placed for the first time appearing on the Bandshell stage. 

Brock commented, "The creation of drumline in 2022 was derived from the game day experience and how we could create a more energetic atmosphere for our fans at games. Our goal was to also utilize the drumline for the new NCA college cheer division at nationals known as Game Day. This year, we took all three spirit groups and competed in the Game Day Open division. We were comprised of NAIA, NCAA DII, NCAA DIII, and junior college teams under Open Game Day Division. We knew as rookies in the category it would be a learning experience and there would be many takeaways as we prepared for future appearances. We did not expect to place our first time appearing on the Bandshell stage. Our spirit family is unique and not like any other in the nation. We have such humble, dedicated, and diligent athletes who work so well together. The unity and cohesiveness are what all coaches dream of having in their programs. Day one of semifinals was a heartbreaking performance as all our major cheer stunts fell and we did not represent our routine as it should. We knew we were better; we took every critique from the judges to heart and applied all correction with a practice the evening before and morning of finals to ensure we were doing our part to be better. There are no words to describe our finals day performance. I left the mat speechless. Everything hit perfectly, every athlete shined brighter than I have ever seen, every person made an impact and was vital to the performance and because of their drive, we came home victorious. Our goal was to place and bring home hardware, and that is exactly what we did. Our Game Day routine bonded our program and has created a unity no one can break. This team is the first to ever appear on the Bandshell and represent OLLU in Daytona for this level of competition. It was a magical and breathtaking moment I will never forget. I can't imagine this week without our assistant coaches, Joe Gonzalez, and Sean Flores. They truly are our MVP's this week. Both continue to support me and push me to be better every day. I know there would be no Game Day without them, and I thank them today and always for making my vision a reality. Finally, I am utterly grateful to Shane Hurley for believing in me when he first hired me and approved my proposal for the Drumline in 2021. It's no secret I have many crazy ideas, hopes and dreams, but he believed in me and with his trust, we are bringing home two trophy's and are ranked 3rd in the nation in our inaugural appearance, on the world famous bandshell. This is only the beginning. We are already choreographing and staging our routine for next season. We can't wait to go back and utilize our experience. There were many take aways and we are eager to fight for another victory. Our open tryout is May 4th. If you are interested, please email Coach Brock at for more information. We are recruiting cheerleaders, dancers and drummers and hope that you can be a part of the legacy."

The spirit programs competed in numerous events this season, including The Battle in the Big Easy, the Point Park Virtual Meet, DTU Regional and ADTS Collegiate Championships.