By: Nyeja Warner/FAMU Sports Information Intern
For student athletes in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), Spring Break isn’t beach-time fun. Spring Break is MEAC basketball tournament time. It is when the men’s and women’s basketball teams fight for the right to play in the NCAA Tournament. And, it’s when the schools’ cheerleading teams vie to be No. 1 in the MEAC-- a title Florida A&M University captured earlier this year. But FAMU will not have the chance to defend its title in 2017 as the conference has decided it will not hold the cheerleading competition, citing budgeting issues.
MEAC officials emailed the coaches from each school informing them of the new changes stating the competition loss funding due to “lack of participation” with last year having a low turnout of only five schools participating. Alvin Hollins, Assistant Sports Information Director at Florida A&M said, “I think it’s disappointing for those young people who work hard all year. And with the issue being funding, that shows the general lack of support these schools give this sport—because that’s exactly what it is, a sport. I am very sorry to see it happen and I hope they bring it back.”
Senior South Carolina State Cheerleader, Kiya Stokes, said, “This is so unfair. MEAC was the only competition our team went to every year, so that was our one time to shine.” This is true for many other teams as well, so now they are forced to find funding for outside competitions not sponsored by the conference. When asked, Florida A&M head coach, Brandi Tatum, about the cancelling of the competition, she stated that her team is ready to step up to more competitive national competitions such as Cheersport Nationals in Atlanta and the collegiate NCA competition held in Daytona. “Our program has just made so much progress over these past few years so we can’t just stop here. It’s time to branch out and tackle new ventures.”
The MEAC competition allowed these athletes to show their audience different styles of cheerleading besides the usual sidelines stop and shake. “Competition is completely different than cheering at a basketball game or football game,” said 21-year-old Courtney Cadore, senior cheerleader at Florida A&M University, “Competition is when you show your advanced stunts and tumbling in a routine that’s only two minutes and 30 seconds. That’s pure talent,”she said.
For the past several years, Morgan State University and FAMU dominated the competition finishing in the top two each year. Last competition, FAMU finished first place in the Coed division, first place in the individual all-star completion, as well as first place overall; Morgan State and Hampton University took second and third respectfully.