The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

Cheer team welcomes new leadership three months before nationals

Marlee Claes / Hilltop Views
At practice, new coach Austin Wilder has the team try various cheer techniques such as stunts.

St. Edward’s welcomed Austin Wilder as head coach of the cheer team in October.  Wilder comes to the hilltop to replace former coach, Javaria Neumon, who announced her departure on Oct. 11, just three months before the team is set to compete in the 2024 Nationals.

Neumon helped jumpstart the cheer program in 2022 after it was one of the six programs cut in 2020 due to the pandemic. In their first year back, they placed 9th in the DII Small Coed division at the UCA College Cheerleading National Championship. 

Wilder joins the hilltop with some impressive credentials having cheered at both Navarro College and Sam Houston State University as well as competing in all-star competitions. He is also a founder and co-owner of Sport of Cheer, a cheer gym in Austin where he coached for over four years. All of these experiences have helped him gain the skills that led him to choose a coaching job at the university level. 

I definitely connect with the team,” Wilder said. “College is where I found my love for cheerleading, so I thrived in that college type atmosphere.”

With Wilder as coach, the team is starting from scratch on their routine, changing their competition style from gameday to traditional. Gameday is a style of cheer focused on crowd engagement and sideline cheers, whereas traditional is a style of cheer that is a performance focused on entertaining the crowd. The challenges that come with a new coach, a new routine and a short timeline are being felt by all. 

“Switching coaches in the middle of a season when we are preparing for competition was really difficult,” sophomore Ella Gumeny said. “But I think that we adapted and we overcame, and we’re doing really well now.” 

To combat the fight against the clock, Wilder has added an hour to every practice and additional practices, bringing the total practice time to 16 hours a week while also balancing cheering at multiple games a week. 

“I believe practice is where you win,” Wilder said. “Practice is where you perfect what you do.”

Team members are feeling optimistic despite the adjustment to an increase in practice.   

“Our team has a bunch of heart and drive,” junior and team captain Danica Morningstar said. “We really want to be here and put in the extra work even during this time of transition.” 

The team is excited for a change of pace and up to the challenge of competition creeping up on them. 

“I’m excited to call the hilltop home,” Wilder said. “I’m just excited to grow and give my all to the school and my team.”

The SEU cheer will travel to Florida to compete in the UCA College Nationals in January.
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