Cheerleaders win National Cheersport Competition

The Georgia State Cheerleaders go through a routine at practice. Feb. 15, 2016. Photos by Jason Luong | The Signal
The Georgia State Cheerleaders go through a routine at practice. Feb. 15, 2016.  Photos by Jason Luong | The Signal
The Georgia State Cheerleaders go through a routine at practice. Feb. 15, 2016.
Photos by Jason Luong | The Signal

The Georgia State Spirit Squad helps bring life into the atmosphere of Panther games year ‘round. The team’s genuine passion for the university and athletic program can be credited directly to their head coach Darryl Lyons, who can spotted on the sidelines of any Panther basketball or football game, yelling in support of Georgia State. Team member work as much as any other student-athlete on campus, waking up early and staying up late for work outs and practice in the GSU Sports Arena.

A couple weekends ago, all of that hard work paid off. On Feb. 14, the Coed Spirit Squad won the National category at the 2016 Cheersport competition. The team’s score of 79.44 edged out second place Georgia Tech at 78.01 points.

The Signal caught the exclusive interview with Coach Lyons on how the competition weekend went and what this victory means for the program.

The Signal: How does this team compare to year’s past?

Coach Lyons: Overall, we’ve had some great teams. Definitely had some great teams, not to discredit the other teams before, but this particular team. I feel like their the hungriest group I’ve had, consistently. Just a lot of resilience. They really wanted it. I feel like I set them up for success to go into a competition I felt they’ve be strong at and we did it. So I’m very excited. Very, very proud of them.

The Signal: At what point over the weekend did you know it was yours?

Coach Lyons: It’s hard to say, because I felt like our swagg and mojo weren’t the best on Sunday morning. Saturday morning, I feel like we came in and we were very focused and we were ready, even actually going back to Friday night. Friday night we had practice and I feel like we were just on. We made a lot of heads turn in the practice room. You’re in the practice room with 40 or 50 other teams. People were stopping and watching like, ‘Oh, that’s Georgia State…Yeah, it’s Georgia State.’ So that was a big confidence builder and then Saturday morning, honestly, that’s when I knew we were ready. I felt like they were confident. They knew what they could do and they could just go do it. Of course on Sunday, after our performance, it wasn’t a perfect performance, but I know that the energy level was there and it was great, so I was very pleased. At that point I wasn’t sure what was going to happen with the other teams and the judges scoring. So, I wasn’t completely sure, but once I saw all the other teams in the division I was completely sure.

The Signal: Is there any prize financially for any of the students?

Coach Lyons: Oh no, the prize is just having the pride of wearing this jacket (pointing to his Cheersport jacket). This is a jacket that I had previously, but they have a jacket that they gave all of the students to wear and it says ‘National Champion.’ I think just the marketing of the brand on Social Media and just in the community, in the cheerleading community, it’s huge, because this is going to make for great recruiting of really good athletes. Most of the kids now that come out of high school, they come out of All-Star programs, where competition is really most important and I want let them to know that when they get to Georgia State- you can have a big school atmosphere, great big games, big athletics and competition too. That way, that gives you the total package- well rounded cheerleader.

The Signal: Do you think this victory gave the strong argument that cheerleaders deserve scholarships too?

Coach Lyons: I mean…I feel like they should be recognized, yes. I feel like any type of financial backing (would be great)- I mean we get a lot of financial backing already, but more financial backing would be welcomed [laughs].