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Texas Southern’s National Cheer Title Proves Black Girls Cheer, Too


In April, the Texas Southern University cheerleading squad made history by becoming the first HBCU to win a national championship.

The team traveled to Daytona Beach, Florida and competed with 14 other schools in the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) College National Championship. The Tigers put on a stellar performance in the Cheer Spirit Rally Division 1 category with a 96.1 raw score and a 95.5875 score in the final round.

The 22-member squad led by head coach Shontrese Comeaux won a title at the NCA College Camps the previous summer, which enabled them to be able to compete in the national finals.

Winning is nothing new to the Tigers and for Coach Comeaux. Yet the ride to glory not only continues to astonish her, but gives her and her cheerleaders an immediate desire for next year to arrive.

“It’s been a very surreal and humbling experience,” she said. “We put in all the hard and we are planning for next year.”

In late April, they finished tryouts with an amazing 225 hopefuls signing up, a testament to the impact of the squad’s victory. A total of 88 of those signees showed up and 38 made the cut for next year.

Their next trip will be to Dallas, Texas for the NCA Camp at Southern Methodist University July 21st- 23rd as they look to repeat as champions.

“They are ready to get to work,” said Comeaux. “We are going to go back and get a gold.”

TSU’s excellence comes at a time when HBCUs are more visible than ever and scores of students are enrolling at HBCUs at record rates. Applications to HBCUs soared by 30% in 2022. According to the Department of Education, female student enrollment at HBCUs went up from 53% in 1976 to 64% in 2021.

In addition, HBCU athletic programs are gaining in stature and are increasingly becoming top choices for many Black student-athletes.  

Coach Comeaux understands the significance of their national victory given the current state of affairs and is also equally proud of solidifying cheerleading as a sport.

“It’s a win for the whole HBCU community,” she said. “We win for other HBCUs and for other African American cheerleaders. We are also a sport.”

Given the physical and mental exertion that goes into organizing, practicing and executing elaborately choreographed routines before a panel of judges, cheerleading is definitely a sport.

TSU’s accomplishments are in keeping with a history that has often gone unacknowledged.

There is a rich tradition and history of Black cheerleaders being central to the longstanding struggle for racial justice. From the 1950s onward, Black cheerleaders were able to carve out spaces to showcase their talents in a world of athletics where opportunities were largely afforded to men as well as to use that visibility to speak up against racism.

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