In what is arguably the biggest achievement for Regent University’s budding intercollegiate sports program, the school’s cheer squad finished second in its first-ever national competition. The Regent Royals Cheerleaders made their impressive debut at the 2018 Christian Cheerleaders of America (CCA) National Competition in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in March.
The cheer squad’s accomplishment is even that more surprising when you consider the team’s humble beginnings. Only half of the students competing have previous cheerleading experience. Head coach Hannah Harden has been working since August to build the program from the ground up.
“My first thought at tryouts was ‘Wow!’” she recalls. “We had so many girls and guys that came out with passion and true potential, each one bringing a heart to learn and grow. This proved to me that cheerleading would have a very successful first year.”
Throughout their inaugural season, the cheer squad has been forced to overcome several obstacles, including limited practice facilities, loss of members and multiple injuries. But their ability to shine in the face of adversity is what makes this national, second-place finish that much more special for these student-athletes.
“I knew that this season would be challenging,” Harden says. “But it also allowed me to go back to the basics and teach a squad that ranged in skill set from beginner to advanced. I am truly amazed at how far we’ve come!”
In other news from the Regent athletics program, interim athletic director Roger Cheeks says the university is trying to recruit more than 100 athletes for the 2018-19 school year. “Our coaches are recruiting not only good student-athletes, but athletes that fit our culture here at Regent University,” Cheeks explains. “They not only have to have great athletic ability, but they have to perform in the classroom.”
Cheeks admits that Regent isn’t recruiting high-school stars for the university’s track & field, volleyball, soccer and other sports teams. The coaches are looking for “diamonds in the rough” — young men and women the university can develop as student-athletes.
“Recruiting is important because it sets the tone, especially for new programs,” he insists. “It sets a tone and a foundation for our program to be able to build upon. We don’t want to lower our academic standard just because someone can participate athletically. … We have to have high academic standards as well as the best players.”
Regarding the performances of this year’s teams, Cheeks says, “We started our cross-country teams, women’s volleyball team, and soccer teams with all walk-ons. There were no recruits on these first-year teams. What we were looking for the first year out is: Can we improve each game? And we certainly saw that improvement.”
Cheeks adds that three Regent student-athletes qualified for the indoor track & field national championship this winter, while the spring squad just wrapped up its second season this month. And when it comes to on-campus enthusiasm for the teams, he says it couldn’t be better: “From our chancellor and founder Dr. Robertson, the executive leadership team, students, faculty, staff and alumni, we continue to receive nothing but great support, encouragement and prayers. … GO, ROYALS!”
To support Regent’s intercollegiate sports program financially, call 800.335.4409 or visit regent.edu/supportathletics.