SEU Cheer tumbles back into varsity level


Gracie Watt / Hilltop Views

The St. Edward’s Cheerleaders performed a routine during halftime in last years homecoming, complete with dancing, stunts and tumbling.

The SEU cheer team regains their varsity status this year as part of Strategic Plan 2027 after operating as a club sport since spring 2020. 

According to Debbie Taylor, associate vice president of athletics, the reinstatement marks the beginning of a five-year expansion plan for the athletic department, which includes the return of cheerleading and men’s soccer.

Sierra Sweeney, senior and captain of the team, remembers cheerleading as a club, noting the financial stress they experienced while practicing and being full-time students. Back in athletics, the team feels more secure.

“We were very welcomed and supported,” Sweeney said. “(But there is) a burden to figure out where things are coming from.” According to Taylor, the athletics department receives more resources than RecWell, which allows their athletes to have additional health insurance, access to an athletic trainer and a specific advisor for student-athletes.

With the reinstatement also comes a new head coach, Javaria Neumon. With years of dance and cheerleading under her belt, this will be Neumon’s first year coaching cheer at the collegiate level.

“I love her,”  sophomore and team treasurer Jahennessy Parra said. “(Neumon is) someone to lead us.” Although new to the hilltop, Neumon already feels at home. “St. Ed’s is family,” Neumon said.  She recalled feeling supported and communicated with throughout the interview process. “It became apparent that she had the skill set to provide the best leadership for the program,” Taylor said.

Neumon’s position as head cheerleading coach compliments her role as director of fan engagement, calling it “two things that I love together.” She is making a point to have cheerleaders at every volleyball game as well as the men’s and women’s basketball games. 

“It is important that we support each other,” she said.

Already devoting hours each week to practice, the team prepares to compete in the spring, running through a series of dances, lifts and tumbles. Their practices, though intense, can be a favorite part of the cheerleaders’ day.

“We’re trying to figure out what works,” freshman Kylie Goeres said. “We really get to work [and] escape school and life,” Parra said.

On top of practices, the team is also fundraising for competition, hotels, flights, transportation and choreography.According to Sweeney, competing in cheerleading can cost up to 25,000 dollars.

Before it was a club team, the cheer team secured ninth place in the 2020 UCA College Cheerleading National Championship. In spring 2023, the team plans to travel to Florida to compete again. For the seniors who have been on the team since their freshman year, this season will be their second and last time at nationals. 

Sweeney hopes that their routine will tell the crowd, “we’re back better than ever.”