NAHS cheerleading is looking toward the future, as plans are in the process for the squad to have their own practice facility.
As approved in the June 1 school board meeting, coaches Mary Beth Muncie and Neely Robertson, along with the board are taking bids for the building, which could be open as early as October.
“We need a practice facility,” Muncie said. “It’s like asking the football team to practice on 60 yards, then on Friday night telling them you have to go out and win on a 100 yard field. That’s how we’re limited right now.”
The cheerleaders normally practice in the basketball gym at the high school, but once the Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs begin practice in October, the girls are moved or limited in their practice time, something that hinders the squad from going to the next level.
“Right now we can only use seven mats instead of nine, or when we’re moved to another area, we can only use four mats, so when you’re thinking of a competition spring floor, that’s taking us from a large space to a tiny space,” Muncie explained. “If we’re going to push the team to be a state championship squad, then we need the full practice area so we know we’re giving them everything they need.”
“Cheerleading is not what it used to be,” Robertson added. “It has grown into a competitive sport. In order to be competitive, you need to be able to practice on the amount of space that you’re going to be on at a competition.”
The area selected for the facility is where the greenhouse used to be located near Kitchen’s Field. In drawings made for the proposal, the district is looking at building a 4100 square foot building with an indoor ceiling height over 25 feet, just the amount needed for the squad to practice stunts and competition routines.
Another added bonus is that several parents have stepped up to help with the building process, as they plan to cover the electrical, plumbing and cement portions, knocking off from the cost of the project.
The practice facility will have everything the girls will need, including a bathroom, dressing area and storage, along with a spring floor, which will help limit the number of injuries.
“We’re taking the safety level up,” Muncie said. “The spring floor will be better on their joints and bones when they’re tumbling or if they fall out of a stunt. It’s better to fall on a spring floor rather than a concrete floor.”
When completed, this facility will be a one-of-a-kind, something the squad is excited about.
“They are overwhelmed and thrilled,” Robertson said. “With this facility, we’ll no longer have to waste time rolling out the mats and getting them velcro together. They’ll be able to walk right in and start stretching. They’re ready to go out there and help raise the money.”
The idea for the project came after Muncie and Robertson took over the squad in March. Soon after talking with administration, the group went to the school board with the proposal, as the squad is taking measures to become a championship team.
“Neely and I are looking at the long term plan of cheerleading in New Albany and where we can take it from the level it’s at now to a championship team,” Muncie said.
For NAHS this is the first step toward becoming a championship squad, which they say is no longer a question of if, but when.