ADRIAN, Mich. – Siena Heights University has announced the addition of a competitive cheer and dance team to its athletic department. The new SHU squad will enjoy its inaugural season during the 2012-13 school year, bringing the university’s total number of athletic teams to 20.
The Saints have also named Angie Sword as their first cheer and dance coach. Sword was most recently the coach at Adrian College, guiding the Bulldogs from 2008 until 2012.
“We are pleased to add the new cheer and dance programs,” said SHU athletic director Fred Smith, “and we are excited to have somebody of Angie’s caliber leading them.”
Sword brings a strong background to the Saints’ new program. She is a certified member of the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators.
As coach at Adrian, she led the Bulldogs to a pair of solid performances at the 2011 Cheer Ltd. Nationals at CANAM in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The Adrian dance team placed second while the cheer team took ninth at the event.
The squad also attended a three-day camp organized by the National Cheerleaders Association and National Dance Alliance – two entities that combine to host the annual NCA/NDA Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championships.
“Cheer and dance has just grown by leaps and bounds, especially at the collegiate level,” Sword said.
The NAIA now claims Cheer and Dance as an emerging sport and will be holding its second annual NCA/NDA NAIA Invitational on Apr. 11-15, 2012, in Daytona Beach, Fla. Prior to this year, NAIA schools competed in the same divisions as NCAA schools. A total of 93 NAIA teams are competing in 2011-12.
Along with competing, Sword will have the program involved in projects both on campus and in the community.
“On campus, we want to promote school spirit,” she said. “We want to help keep people on campus and get more fan support. We want to keep that spirit and energy level up.
“We’d also like to get out there and do things in the community and work with different interest groups. We want to get people out to sporting events and get more exposure for Siena Heights in general.”
Sword, herself, is an Adrian native and 1987 graduate of Adrian High School. During her time at AHS, the Maples won the 1984 United States Cheerleading Association championship.
After high school, Sword attended Purdue University and graduated in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. As a Boilermaker, she was the Girl-in-Black – one of two solo twirling positions in the Purdue Marching Band.
Sword eventually moved back to Adrian in 2005 and was a cheerleading coach at Adrian Middle School. She was also an instructor at Maple City Gymnastics. Currently, she is the majorette coach at Adrian High.
The cheer and dance teams will be present at other SHU teams’ events, but Sword stresses that the group’s competitive attribute will be its most important feature.
“We want to put on halftime shows and even incorporate students on campus into some of our routines,” she said. “Our goal is to provide a wide variety of entertainment and get the student body to show school spirit. We just want to get out there and support the other teams. If we support them, they’ll get out and support us. We’d like to put on practice runs here in the fieldhouse and we would like to host competitions.
“Competitive cheer and dance is the main thing – and it’s not just its own sport; it is a complement to some of the other sports that are here. Siena Heights really has been a school of change and cheer and dance will be a great addition.”
All interested student-athletes are encouraged to contact Angie Sword at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-264-7819. Click HERE to view the program’s Facebook page.