From OCU Sports
Rich Tortorelli, Assistant Athletic Director for Communications
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is proud to announce the 2017 and 2018 Competitive Cheer and Dance National Championships will be hosted by Oklahoma City University at the Abe Lemons Arena in Oklahoma City on March 10-11, 2017 and March 9-10, 2018.
The NAIA is the only athletics association to offer a national championship in this sport. Competitive Cheer & Dance is the first to earn national championship status in the Association in a span of 22 years – NAIA women’s golf became a championship sport prior to the spring of 1995.
Competitive Cheer and Dance is entering its first year of national championship status, meaning there are a minimum of 40 institutions sponsoring the sport at an intercollegiate varsity level and have completed at least two National Invitationals. Currently, there are 66 NAIA schools with intent of competing in this sport going into the 2016-17 season.
“Oklahoma City University has displayed a commitment to the growth and success of NAIA Competitive Cheer and Dance for several years and we were thrilled to learn of their interest in hosting this sport’s first two championships,” said Lynn Meredith, NAIA Vice President for Marketing & Communications, Championships. “We have no doubt their talented and experienced staff will host memorable championships for everyone involved.”
Oklahoma City is a member of the Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) and became the first-ever NAIA Cheerleading National Invitational champions in 2015. The Stars are led by Alicia Bailey, who is entering her second season as head coach, following the 2014-15 seasons as serving as the assistant coach.
The Abe Lemons Arena is located inside the Freede Center on the Oklahoma City Campus and seats 3,360 fans. The Freede Center is home to multiple volleyball and basketball courts, athletic training facilities, locker rooms and indoor jogging tracks. The Abe Lemons Arena has hosted the 2009 and 2010 NAIA Wrestling Championships.
“It is thrilling to be hosting the first cheer and dance national championship in NAIA history,” said Oklahoma City University’s Jim Abbott, Assistant Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics, Director of Athletics. “This is an important event for Oklahoma City University and the Oklahoma City community. We look forward to an exciting and memorable championship.”
Bailey said, “We are thrilled the NAIA has awarded Oklahoma City the opportunity to host the first true national championships for cheer and dance! Oklahoma City has a huge all-star cheer and dance community, so having the opportunity to show young athletes what they do is now recognized as a championship sport is very special. We believe Oklahoma City as a town and our university can provide a great experience for this event and we are looking forward to making this an unforgettable experience for the student-athletes, coaches, officials and fan.”
In the 2016 NAIA Competitive Cheer and Dance National Invitational, Martin Methodist (Tenn.) won the cheer title with a two-day overall score of 94.44, followed by Oklahoma City with a score of 92.8. St. Ambrose (Iowa) won the dance title with a two-day overall score of 112.56. The event was hosted by St. Ambrose in Davenport, Iowa.