Spring Hill College Director of Athletics Jim Hall has announced that the school's rapidly growing athletics program will add co-educational competitive cheerleading as its 16th varsity sport beginning in fall of 2013. In conjunction with the addition of competitive cheer, sideline cheerleading and dance will be elevated from their current club sport statuses to scholarship programs.
"The addition of competitive cheerleading at Spring Hill College will create opportunities for cheerleaders seeking a quality education to compete on a national stage at the collegiate level," Hall said. "Cheerleading and dance are highly popular sports in the Southeast and I believe the outstanding education and campus of Spring Hill College will attract many high-level athletes from around the area."
The Badgers will join 98 men's and women's competitive cheerleading programs that currently compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Spring Hill will be the first NAIA institution within the state of Alabama and only the second school within the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) to offer the sport.
Competitive cheerleading is currently considered an "emerging" sport by the NAIA, meaning that it is recognized as a varsity sport by the organization, but the NAIA does not sponsor an official national championship tournament. The NAIA recognized cheer as a varsity co-educational sport 2010 and created a national invitational tournament in 2011.
A nationwide search for a fulltime head coach for the three programs will begin immediately. "We are taking the addition of these programs very seriously," Hall said. "That's why we are offering scholarships, hiring a fulltime coach and planning to compete at the national competitions. We want to make sure that these athletes have a high quality collegiate experience."
Hall also stressed the importance of the new scholarship program for the school's sideline cheerleading and dance teams. "Without varsity programs in the spirit areas, our athletic program has been lacking. I am pleased that we are finally going to be able to offer scholarships in these programs. Our new squads in cheer and dance will be valuable additions to our athletic offerings that will dramatically improve our game environments while providing collegiate level competition opportunities for women."
With the addition of competitive cheerleading, Spring Hill will sponsor 16 varsity sport teams that include men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's outdoor track & field, baseball, softball and women's volleyball.
Prospective student-athletes interested in the new programs should contact Jim Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org or (251) 380-3491.