Gotta kick it up: Competitive Cheer seeks funds for Nationals

5, 6, 7, 8... ASU Competitive Cheer coaches direct girls and guys endlessly across the bright blue mats in the Arizona Heat All-Stars gym.

The coach yells, “Again!” as one girl runs in the wrong direction. Fierce, clean and solid the routine finally hits. About six months and 250 exhausting hours of practice becomes two extraordinary, flawless minutes on the mats at a competition.

“I feel like we have been doing good this year of really getting ourselves out there," ASU Competitive Cheer coach Tommy Velasquez says. "A lot of people are starting to realize that ASU does have a competitive cheer team that takes things seriously,”

Arizona State University Competitive Cheer knows exactly what it takes to win these competitions and how to get there.

The team qualified by submission of a video audition to the National Cheerleaders Association championships in Daytona Beach this April. They just have one setback: the money to get there.

It will take $26,000 to make the trip to nationals and the university provides the club about $2,000 for traveling expenses, according to ASU Competitive Cheer coach Mallory DeFelice.cheer4

“We just feel pushed to the side,” Velasquez said.

ASU Competitive Cheer has started to raise money by car washes and stunt clinics for younger cheerleaders. They also utilized the Super Bowl for special appearances but they want the university's help as well.

The coaches say they feel they don’t get the recognition from ASU they deserve.

“It would be a little bit easier and more motivational for them (cheerleaders) if they knew their school backed them on some little bit and just showed that they cared for them somewhat,” Velasquez says.

Cheerleader Torie Jones says she does cheer because it’s the one thing that makes her the happiest.

“You get to make friends who have similar interests and are like you,” she says.

DeFelice says she uses her resources and the other coaches' personal connections to make the team more successful.

DeFelice is very proud of the team for qualifying for Nationals and says she hopes they can accumulate the money to get there.

“I give them a lot of props because the fact is they are here because they love this sport and they love what they do,” Velasquez says. “The fact that they put in their own money and they do a lot more extra for this when I know some of them don’t have the time.”

All three coaches: Velasquez, DeFelice and Shapel Lacey say they are very proud of their team and hope to see things change for the cheerleaders in the future.

ASU Competitive Cheer has four competitions in the spring 2015 semester: two in Phoenix, one in Anaheim, Calif. and Nationals in Daytona Beach, Fla.

“We can do well at nationals, so hopefully, if we win, we will get some kind of pat on the back,” Velasquez said.

Reach the writer at or on Twitter @halschris.

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