Opinion: ‘NCA and NDA was nothing like I have ever experienced before’

Ava Kim, Photo Editor

Disclaimer: The following contains spoilers for the Netflix show “Cheer.” 

After two unusual years, the Daytona National Cheerleaders Association and National Dance Alliance Collegiate National Championship competition came back in full force. More than 400 college teams from throughout the country compete for a shot at an NCA or NDA College Nationals title. This year was the first time since the pandemic that spectators were allowed to come in person compared to streaming the competitions online. 

I had the opportunity to go to Daytona this year as my older sister, Ellie Kim, is a part of Northeastern University’s Dance Team and would be competing at NDA. Being a part of the cheer community for 12 years, NDA and NCA have always been well known in my eyes. I grew up always wanting to see teams compete in the famous bandshell. 

The competition this year was held from April 6 to April 10; however, I only attended from April 6 to April 9. Both NDA and NCA had two main days for competing. The other days would hold events such as “stunt fest,” which is a partner stunt competition.

This is the first time the Northeastern Dance Team will be competing in five years. On the first day, I got to watch Ellie perform Team Dance, which consisted of jazz, hip-hop, and pom. There were hundreds of people spectating. I was amazed by how in sync everyone was and the different levels of skills that the team was able to pull off. They ended up placing fifth overall after competing against 10 other colleges including Boston University and Sam Houston State University. On the second day, I watched their hip-hop performance against the same teams that were in the Team Performance Division I category. Even though they had an amazing performance, they placed ninth overall. 

It was special to me to not only see my sister perform, but score so high in a place that I have always wanted to. 

While I was there, I was also able to watch some cheer teams perform. The most notable one was the Navarro Cheer Team from Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas. They are also from the Netflix documentary “Cheer” and were reigning champs prior to last year. 

The dance teams and cheer teams performed in different areas of the convention center. The cheer arena was larger than the dance arena, seeing as it could hold more people. Every seat was filled to the point where people started sitting on the floor, waiting to watch Navarro perform.

When Navarro came onto the stage, everyone in the arena started to cheer and chant “NC.” Navarro had an outstanding performance and did not drop a single stunt. I was mesmerized by the different kinds of stunts and movements they did. I have seen their performances dozens of times online, but seeing them in person was a different experience. When watching it online, the camera fails to capture how intricate and detailed every single one of their moves are. The flyers were being thrown so high that I thought they would hit the ceiling, the guys were doing an unbelievable four flips in a row, and they all had so much energy. It was a sight that I will never forget. When they finished performing, everyone started to scream and shout in support of them while most of the people in the arena started to leave.

Monica Aldama and Ava Kim. Monica has been the head coach at Navarro for almost 30 years. (Ava Kim)

On the second day, I did not get the chance to witness either teams perform in the bandshell. However, I did have the chance to meet Monica Aldama who is the coach of the Navarro Cheer Team. I was able to talk to her and ask her questions about Navarro’s performance this year.

Navarro was able to secure their 15th National Title!

If you watch the Netflix series “Cheer,” it is well known that Navarro’s rival is Trinity Valley Community College. However, it is not mentioned that they are the only two teams that compete in the advanced large co-ed junior college division.

Overall, my experience at the 2022 NDA and NCA Daytona competition was nothing like I have ever experienced before. It was a dream come true and I hope to return not as a spectator, but as someone who is competing. I know that the bandshell is waiting for me.