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Cheer Squad Wins MTV's "Rah! Paula Abdul's Cheerleading Bowl"

Dec 30th, 2008

NEW YORK—The University of Hawai‘i cheer squad, led by head coach Mike Baker, won the first-ever “RAH! Paula Abdul’s Cheerleading Bowl” that aired on MTV on January 3, 2009. The UH cheer team outlasted four other teams hand picked from across the country to capture the inaugural title. The 90-minute special follows each squad’s journey to New York City and shows what goes on behind the scenes as they compete in a series of elimination challenges to determine the champion.

“Rah! is a project of a lifetime,” says Abdul who serves as host, coach, creator, and executive producer of the competition. She hoped this special would focus a spotlight on the intense world of competitive cheerleading. “I wanted to share one of my greatest passions, in a unique and special format that celebrates the true spirit, creativity, and athleticism that is cheerleading.”

The universities of Arizona, Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Montana, and Miami of Ohio, along with Hawai‘i travelled to New York City this past November to film the contest. Once there, squads had to create, choreograph, and perform different routines in elimination rounds during two, 16-hour days of taping. The teams filmed in front of a live studio audience at the New Balance Track and Field Center at the 168th Street Armory in New York City. A trio of judges critiqued the squads on creativity, teamwork, difficulty, and overall performance. The judges for the unique competition were Hi-Hat (choreographer for “Bring It On” and “Step Up 2: The Streets”), Scott Bouchard (head coach for the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth), and Breanna Klinger (NJ Nets dancer).

“In cheerleading, a squad has to have both physical stamina and the ability to use dance and music to put on a great show. This competition offers a first-hand look at that unique mix of athletics and choreography. It reveals how much these teams put on the line to be amazing competitors,” said Tony DiSanto, executive vice president for series development and programming for MTV. “As a former cheerleader, performer and choreographer, Paula has an incredible respect for squads everywhere and has incredible experience with music and knows the moves a team needs to win.”

Known for some of the most creative and innovative routines in the country, the Hawai‘i cheer team has become a perennial power over the last few years at the Universal Cheerleaders Association Collegiate National Championships. The ‘Bows finished in the Top 10 the past five years at the Division 1A level, the most competitive and largest division.  In 2001 and '05, UH earned a school-best third place trophy.

"Deciding to do this brand new competition was one of the most difficult decisions I've ever made as a coach," said Baker. "The actual show itself was definitely the most challenging thing I have ever done, period. It really made us dig deep within ourselves and the audience will see what these teams and their coaches are made of."
"Usually in our competitions, we have to perform just one two-and-a-half minute routine that we create and make adjustments to over the course of a year's time." explained Baker. "The 'Cheerleading Bowl,' however, pitted teams head-to-head doing unexpected challenges with elimination looming as the consequence for not executing well. It was tough, but an amazing experience for my team and me. You'll have to watch the show for yourself. Paula and MTV treated the squads fairly and I hope what people will see is a fresh new look at competitve cheerleading."

Courtesy of University of Hawai'i Athletics

Filed under: TV


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