In the now classic movie Bring It On (2000) Gabrielle Union and Kirsten Dunst face off as cheerleaders from opposing California high schools. Union’s all-Black squad, The Clovers, finds out that Dunst’s squad, the Toros, from an upscale San Diego high school is copying their cheers. The two squads ultimately face off in a national competition which the Clovers win.
Call the Savannah State Tigers squad the real-life Clovers. While presumably no other squads were copying their routines, they have just become the first HBCU to win the national Cheersport Nationals, America’s largest cheerleading competition.
“It’s nice to be recognized doing something other than cheering at a game,” said the squad’s captain Dathan Gooden. “It is the first (championship) for an HBCU, so I think it brought something positive back here. I think it’s opened eyes of some people. It’s very humbling because we’re not really used to that.”
Savannah State’s accomplishment became a national story after Twitter acknowledgements from Tiger alumnus and NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe and highly regarded actress Gabrielle Union, who played a cheerleader in the 2000 movie “Bring It On.”
“I did not know this was going to be that big to the community,” SSU head cheerleading coach Timothy Grant said. “To have so many people excited about it is rewarding.”
It’s not unusual for cheerleaders to be front and center, but few onlookers understand competitive cheerleading, which is more entertainment than crowd leading.
SSU has 22 cheerleaders, but only 13 competed in the choreographed event of competitive cheerleading, which included standing tumbling, running tumbling, partner stunts, a pyramid section and dance.
— SSU Athletics (@SavStateTigers) February 21, 2017