BLOOMINGTON — As an Indiana University cheerleader, sophomore Kate Fee is two-for-two.
After winning the UCA National Championship at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando as a freshman, Fee and the Hoosiers continued their dominating run again this year, winning the team’s fifth title in the last six years.
A 2015 New Palestine graduate, Fee was active on the Dragons’ cheer squad and qualified for state with her team and as an individual in gymnastics. New Palestine finished sixth overall when Fee was a senior.
Fee also earned All-State cheerleading honors her final year of high school and appeared to be a perfect fit for the Indiana all-girl squad — where gymnastics and cheer are combined as one.
Story continues below gallery
The Daily Reporter caught up with Fee to talk about her time in college and her second consecutive national title.
DR: How was winning in Orlando this year different than winning there last year?
KF: I knew coming into Indiana that they were really big in the cheer world. It felt like a lot of pressure last year, even walking up to the mat there was a lot of nerves. But this year, before the finals, we were all just standing there making jokes and laughing. I think at that point we just had so much confidence that we knew we could do it.
DR: What do you think makes Indiana cheerleading so dominant lately?
KF: I think the respect we have for our coaches and for the team (helps). The team holds you to a standard and we have expectations. Our entire coaching staff holds us to that standard. It really comes more from the team, though. We are teammate driven, but our coaches are phenomenal at what they do. The talent on on our team is unreal, and we work really well together.
DR: Where does Indiana’s program rank around the country in your eyes?
KF: I definitely think we are up there (with the best). There are teams that can definitely compete with us. I just think what sets us apart from everyone else is we do a lot with the community. But what sets our routine apart is we do a crazy amount of skills — the speed of our team and the amount of skills we throw in.
DR: Can you describe the routine your team did this year at nationals?
KF: We actually did 11 structures (builds). I think on average there is only eight or nine structures, so were were above other teams in that way. We did a lot of stunting and tumbling. We did a lot of pyramids, which took a lot of time in practice. This year we did kind of change the end of the routine. Normally we would dance and tumble at the same time. Our coach wanted to set a part that was different from the other teams. Anyone who could do a back full (backflip) would throw it at the end of the routine before transitioning into the dance. It was harder, but it also set us apart from the other teams. Fifteen of us threw (a backflip) at the end of the routine.
DR: What was your training like to get ready for the event?
KF: We get our routine about a month and a half to two months before nationals. We start after Thanksgiving and start working the skills and stuff like that. During Christmas break, we are (in Bloomington) for three days doing two-a-day practices. After that, we are doing those for two weeks straight. It is a lot of cheerleading before nationals. It definitely works, though. Our coach is actually really good at peaking us, meaning he doesn’t burn us out.
DR: How much do you think your cheer and gymnastics background at New Palestine has helped you at Indiana?
KF: I ended up doing club (gymnastics) for 16 years, but it is more of an individual sport. When I went to high school, it went to more of a team sport. So I definitely think my gymnastics background helps with cheerleading. Overall, I am a better fit for cheerleading because of gymnastics. The transition to high school helped me think about the team rather than myself. I don’t think I would have been as successful with the Indiana cheer team if it wasn’t for the cheer and gymnastics at New Palestine. They really taught me that you win and lose together.