In April, the UNH cheerleading team jumped, tumbled and stunted its way to a first-ever national title at the National Cheerleading Association (NCA) championship in Daytona, Florida. A revamped squad, working with first-year coaches Scott Rigoli and Brad Burlamachi, edged out Sam Houston State University to claim the title in the All-Girl Division I category.
Burlmachi predicted that no one would see the brand-new UNH team coming as he and Rigoli developed a routine that emphasized athletic prowess and a high level of difficulty. Seeded second after the first day of competition, the 26-athlete squad performed a fast-paced, high-flying routine on “the big stage” — an open-air band shell — that clicked at all the right moments. Right after nailing a difficult pyramid stunt, Karissa Young ’18 recalls, “I just saw Scott and Brad freak out, and after that, I knew we hit.”
Before returning home to chilly Durham, the team celebrated its big win with a photo shoot on Daytona Beach. UNH cheer’s previous best performance at the NCA championship was a second-place finish in 2011; in 2002, the team earned a title competing in the Universal Cheerleading Association National Championship.