MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon Nazarene University Athletic Department has announced the implementation of coed competitive cheerleading into its sports program, which will become a scholarship sport beginning in 2018-19.
MVNU has offered coed sideline cheerleading since the 1970s, but adding the competitive cheer element comes on the heels of the NAIA holding its first ever NAIA National Championship in competitive cheer and dance on March 11, 2017 in Oklahoma City, Okla.
The Crossroads League also began a competitive cheerleading competition last season involving Saint Francis (Ind.) and Indiana Wesleyan, an event that MVNU was able to attend and observe. The typical competition consists of a 2:30 routine that includes a dance, cheers, stunts and tumbling. Saint Francis recently finished second overall in the NAIA National Championship, while Indiana Wesleyan came in 12th.
MVNU plans to take part in at least two competitions in the 2018-19 academic year as it gains varsity status, becoming MVNU’s 16th varsity program.
The addition of coed competitive cheer is one of many anticipated new offerings to come over the next four years as MVNU looks to grow enrollment through the addition of new athletic teams.
The program is led by head coach Jill Macklin, who graduated from MVNU in 1990 and began coaching the team three years later. Macklin has also coached Fredericktown Middle School cheerleading for 10 years, judged countless competitive cheerleading events and currently serves as an adjunct professor at MVNU by teaching the “Discipleship for the Christian Mind” humanities course.
The sideline cheer team under Macklin currently consists of 12 student-athletes, nine of whom are freshman and two of whom have competed in competitive cheer in the past, who are currently working on a halftime routine for January. They also have been actively involved in a number of #MVNUnited community service initiatives, and recently attended a Mascot day for collegiate cheerleaders and mascots put on by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio (AICUO). MVNU was one of 16 colleges and universities from all across Ohio represented by a mascot, and one of three that brought its cheerleaders for the unique annual event, which was held at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.
“The world of cheerleading has changed and grown over the last 30 years, and competitive cheerleading has blossomed for school age students, some who cheer for their schools and also competitively through private for-profit cheer gyms,” Macklin said.
“High school student-athletes from across the country can grow spiritually, academically and athletically here at MVNU through the cheer program. As a former high school and collegiate cheerleader I have seen cheerleading involve into what it is today, which is a very athletic sport that requires dedication and determination.”
Student-athletes interested in participating at MVNU are encouraged to contact Coach Macklin and complete the recruit information form at mvnucougars.com.