It only took the Dickinson State University cheerleading team two-and-a-half minutes to make history. On its home floor against the University of St. Francis (Ill.) on Thursday, DSU cheerleaders defeated the Saints 80 to 57.
The competition lasted nearly 40 minutes, but both teams performed for 150-seconds. In that time, the Blue Hawks cheerleaders proved to the fans in the stands, the North Star Athletic Association and the entire NAIA they were officially a force to contend with on the floor.
"This is a big deal, we're really excited," Blue Hawks Head Coach Cebe Schneider said. "I'm so proud of the kids and grateful to all the people who came out and supported us and have their part in the win."
The Blue Hawks held a record of 2-0 prior to Thursday's routine, earning both of its wins on the road last month. But unbeknownst to the large number fans in the stands at Scotts Gymnasium, the Blue Hawks were battling a series of obstacles in the wake of its first home performance. Thursday was not just the first time the team ever performed at home, it was the first time in history the team had ever stepped foot on the blue mat, having never practiced on its actual home court.
To make things tougher, the team was forced to change the entire routine earlier in the week as a member of the team dealt with concussion protocols and was unable to perform. The absence of the concussed Blue Hawk forced two other members of the team to not only take on active roles in the performance, but learn challenging routines and stunts that would take some athletes months to learn and nail with perfection. They didn't have months...they had less than a week.
The pressure may have felt incredibly strong for the Dickinson State cheerleading team, but the fans never knew it.
Earlier this week, Schneider said the routine was bound to be athletic, dynamic and feature several twists, turns and fun.
It only took to 150-seconds for the Blue Hawks to summarize all of that into one word — untouchable.
To steal a quote from "Bring it on," the 2000 movie about cheerleading, when asked to bring it...the Blue Hawks responded, "Its Already Been Broughten"
With songs such as Flo Rida's 'Low,' and Lady Gaga's 'The Edge of Glory' blaring in the background, the athletes dazzled the night with numerous choreographed flips and tumbles. The team's exceptional portrayal of teamwork and strength was demonstrated best in their immaculate pyramid routines and heart pumping cheers that left many in awe.
By the end of the performance, the entire gym could do nothing but use the rest of its remaining energy to applaud the remarkable performance — leaving some who were not fans of cheerleading interested in seeing just how far this team can go.
The performance was short, but the impact will certainly last a lifetime.
Amidst all of the difficulties the team faced, the team earned a score of 80, its best score of the season, and earning the team a well-deserved victory.
"They were very solid ... we had two kids on the floor that had never been on the floor with us and they did beautifully," Schneider said. "This is what happens when you have really solid athletes ... it is an honor to coach a group of kids that have taken to heart our word of 'overcome' and they are amazing representatives of the university and the community."
With the announcement that St. Francis took second place came the realization of the historical victory for Dickinson State, leaving some of the Blue Hawks' athletes paralyzed with positive emotions followed by a stream of happy emotional tears with the realization that the goal of the historical victory had been achieved.
Schneider said that will be always be a memorable moment for her, but it was not her favorite part of the event.
"My favorite thing was that in five short days, in four practices, they had to re-work the whole routine and they all had to all work together. They gel together, they work together, they work so hard for each other on that floor," she said. "As a coach, seeing my team work so hard on that floor, and work so hard together, that's a beautiful thing."
With the team ending the regular season 3-0, and ending with a performance that will be discussed for quite some time, the Blue Hawks made it clear, cheerleading is surly to be a must-see event in the future.
"I think that we have a very solid core group of athletes and we just hope to build on this and to continue to represent the university and the program and our community well," Schneider said.
The Blue Hawks will travel to Davenport, Iowa to compete in regionals on Feb. 26 and 27.