February 2016, Top story

CIAA is about more than hoops

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The CIAA Tournament is mostly known for the basketball, but behind the scenes the tournament is a great place for recruiting. During the week of tournament, Saint Augustine’s Blue Chips cheerleading squad and Superior Sound Marching Band not only perform at games but they both visit several high schools to perform and introduce high school students to the university.

The cheerleaders also perform the morning of the championship in an exhibition called Super Saturday. A lot of high school students and families come out to watch the performance and cheer on their favorite teams.

Last year’s performance had a big impact on Lauren Bowman’s decision to attend Saint Augustine’s, the freshman from Charlotte said. At the time, Bowman was a cheerleading team captain from Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte. She enrolled at Saint Augustine’s and became a Blue Chip.

“The team was good as a whole but people were also allowed to express themselves individually,” Bowman said, explaining what impressed her about the Blue Chips.

Asia Bethea, also from Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte, attended last year’s CIAA Tournament performance along with Bowman and ended up at Saint Augustine’s University as well. Bethea is a freshman Falcon and a Blue Chip, too.

Last week, Bowman and Bethea were preparing to go to Charlotte and to take part in the same activities that helped recruit them. But now they know how seriously the Blue Chips take the tournament.

“I have a great respect for all HBCU cheer teams now as a college cheerleader,” Bethea said. “It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to prepare for CIAA.”

— Kendall Morrison