Merrimack Dance, Cheer and Band to Compete in First Nationals as Division I Team

The College’s spirit squads will perform together in a Game Day routine for the first time at the NCA and NDA College Nationals.
Photo of Merrimack cheerleaders posing mid-routine.
In addition to the Game Day competition, Merrimack will compete in the In Jazz and Intermediate All-Girl Cheer at this year's National Cheerleaders Association & National Dance Alliance College Nationals in Daytona Beach, Fla.

A new athletics division means new opportunities for Merrimack College’s spirit squads. 

Now as a Division I school, Merrimack’s Dance, Cheer and Band teams will compete in the top flight at the National Cheerleaders Association & National Dance Alliance College Nationals in Daytona Beach, Fla. from April 11 through 13. 

This will also be the first time Merrimack will participate in the Game Day competition with a routine that will feature 11 dancers, 12 cheerleaders, six band members and Mack. 

“It’s meant to give the audience an idea of what it’s like to be at a game day at Merrimack College,” said Alina Porzio ’17, director of spirit & club sports and the head dance team coach. “We’ll do the school fight song, there’s a crowd-leading cheer section and a dancing component. It looks a little bit like what we put out at home football games.”

The Merrimack Dance Team was elevated to varsity status in spring 2023, bringing the total number of varsity programs sponsored by the College to 28. 

“When I was on the team, there were only 12 of us,” said Porzio. “Just seeing it now – the girls’ uniforms, how big the team is and everything that they can do –  it’s just crazy to see how far it’s come. I’m super proud of it, the coaching staff is proud of it and the alumni are proud of it.”

In addition to the Game Day competition at nationals, Merrimack will compete in Jazz and Intermediate All-Girl Cheer.

“We’ve been working on the Jazz and Cheer (routines) since early November and the Game Day choreography since January,” Porzio explained. “Our competition team has been very competitive at the Division II level and we will be very competitive in Division I.”

For Lexine Hulburt ’24 and Heather Ritson ’24, captains of the Game Day squad, this will be their first time performing at the NDA and NCA Nationals. 

“I am so excited to be competing in the Game Day division,” Hulburt said. “It’s definitely a new style so there has been a learning curve but it’s been very rewarding so far. We usually perform and compete in hip-hop so we’re all very excited to try something new.”

Ritson said she’s looking forward to traveling with her team and seeing everything Daytona has to offer.

“I’m most excited to showcase and perform what the team and I have been working so hard for on the Daytona Beach Bandshell,” she continued. “It’s every dancer’s dream to perform on this stage and it’s extremely exciting that we have that opportunity. I’m super proud of the girls and all the work they have put into practice. I’m excited to show everyone the final piece.”

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