Again, this spring, the North Texas Cheer team brought home the National Cheerleaders Association college championship in Spirit Rally -- the first time in school history they've earned back-to-back national cheer titles. This year's win at Daytona Beach, Florida, was especially exciting. Last year, because of the pandemic, they competed virtually.
"This title celebrates getting back to normal," head coach Tracie O'Neal ('99, '03 M.Ed.) says, adding that they were able to make the traditional run into the ocean after the win with trophy in hand to celebrate their victory.
O'Neal, who is starting her 12th year coaching the team, has a deep love for the sport and UNT. As a marketing undergrad, she was captain of the North Texas Dancers. After earning a master's degree in applied training and development, she taught and spent eight years coaching at John Horn High School in Mesquite. She was awarded the coveted NCA Texas High School Cheer Coach of the Year award in 2008. In addition to leading the North Texas Cheer team, O'Neal is national sales director for Cheerleading.com, a cheer and dance uniform company, and is involved in high school choreography and judging -- a role model for hard work and commitment.
The 42-member North Texas Cheer team, comprising two equal squads -- Coed and All Girl -- practices more than 10 hours each week in the fall, aside from traveling and attending games. They put in even more time in the spring, practicing through spring break, during competition season.
"They are truly participating in cheer for love of sport," O'Neal says.
--Photo courtesy of Photoville