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Something to Cheer About

Cheerleading squad wins NCAA Division III title 

Still in their uniforms, members of the Bridgewater State University cheerleading team charged into the surf at Daytona Beach.


To celebrate their 2022 NCAA Division III All-Girl National Title.

“Prior to the competition, you don’t touch the sand or water, its bad luck,” said sophomore Amelia Mateychuk, a health science major.

Even head coach Jason Manhart took the plunge.

“It’s as business trip up until the awards ceremony,” he said. “We are there to work. But when it came time to celebrate, we all hit the water.”

The Bears traveled to Florida in April to complete against the best in the country. Their winning 97.37 points in the Intermediate All-Girl Division III competition marked the highest score for a BSU cheerleading team at the national championships.

Even more impressive is that BSU placed ninth across all divisions.

Under Manhart’s guidance, the Bears have been building a program that has earned respect – and trophies. This is the sixth national title for BSU in the last ten years.

This year, members said, was a little sweeter, as in-person competitions were temporarily put on hold because of COVID-19.

“Last year didn’t feel like a real season. We had to figure out ways to get together as a team and perform virtually,” Mateychuk said.

Being able to compete with her teammates in Daytona was not only a memory-making experience but also comforting in that things felt a little more “normal” said sophomore Celeste McKenzie.

“The best part, though, was being able to go to the beach after the awards and celebrate in the water together,” the chemistry major said.

While the titles are impressive, even more rewarding for Manhart is that the members of his squad consistently graduate and walk the commencement stage year after year.

“As proud as we are of the national rings, academics is huge to us,” he said. “If you come here to cheer, when you leave, you’re graduating. I love telling people that every person (on the squad) graduates.”

And when the 2022 championship banner gets raised in Kelly Gymnasium, where the Bears practice, the athletes will take pride in knowing they will forever be part of Bridgewater State’s cheerleading legacy.

“It’s such an honor to put on that uniform, you become a different version of yourself. You become a superhero with BSU on your chest,” said Genna Dellisola, ’24. 

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