Featured Story

Season Preview: 2023 Concordia Competitive Cheer

By Jacob Knabel on Jan. 9, 2023 in Cheer

Head Coach: Mandi Maser (7th year); 2020 GPAC Cheer Coach of the Year
2022 GPAC Finishes: Cheer 4th/8 | Dance 6th/9
2022 NAIA Northwest Finishes: Cheer 4th/8 | Dance 7th/10

The 2022 season saw Concordia University Competitive Cheer attain the highest scores in the history of the program. That momentum carries the Bulldogs into a 2023 campaign they hope will finish in Ypsilanti, Mich., site of the NAIA National Championships. From 2021 to 2022, Head Coach Mandi Maser’s program improved its average competition score from 69.55 to 73.43. A still-intact school record single performance score of 76.65 came early in February at the Bethel College Invite.

Named the 2020 GPAC Cheer Coach of the Year, Maser is ready to begin her seventh season, which is tracking towards being the best yet for Concordia Cheer. The Bulldogs have continued the trend of starting from a better place than they sat a year earlier.

Said Maser, “Not having to start from page one and being able to build upon last year makes a really huge difference. We want to be able to start the season where we ended last year and be able to build on that. The kids have worked really hard in the offseason. They’ve put in a lot of work in the weight room and with their skills.”

The Bulldogs return All-GPAC performer Shelby Timmerman, as well as seven of her teammates who were part of last season's GPAC Championships competition roster. Timmerman made history in 2022 when she became the cheer program’s first ever all-conference award winner. She’s one of the team’s most influential leaders with the type of strength that belies her 5-foot-4 frame. Timmerman is joined on the roster by additional veteran leaders such as Kaitlyn Foley, Brenden Ingram and Sabrina Reed. The overall ability has spiked to a point that Maser expects to have a bigger group of individuals that will compete for all-conference and All-America awards.

Collectively, they helped Concordia achieve significant heights a year ago. The Bulldogs ranked 24th nationally in terms of average score and earned place finishes of second at the Midland Invitational and third at the York Invitational. Their score of 72.04 at the GPAC Championships put them in fourth place. That means Concordia is still chasing the likes of Midland, Doane and Hastings at the top of one of the nation’s best conferences.

The Bulldogs are motivated to keep moving up the ladder. Says Timmerman, “We’ve done a lot of tumbling – our tumbling this year is going to be amazing. So many people have gotten new skills that aren’t just your basic back handsprings. We’re putting a lot on the table. Strength and conditioning has been a huge thing for us. We’re 10 times stronger than we were last year. That’s going to help everything. Normally we start kind of low and it takes throughout the season to build up, but this year, even with the incoming freshmen, it’s been full confidence right away.”

Other returners from last season’s competition lineup include Victoria Perry, Liv Rogers, Bre Romero and Elizabeth Schultz. They will be joined on the mat by talented freshmen such as Ara Maxwell, LaCole Anno, Lauren Stanley and Katie Wilson.

Young or old, experienced or inexperienced, Maser wants everyone to share in leadership roles and in the process of holding one another accountable. It starts with proven performers like Ingram and Timmerman.

“We want everyone to take leadership roles in whatever ways they can,” Maser said. “Some are good leaders competitively or spiritually or in the way they build people up. It’s more of a shared thing. Shelby has taken on that mentality and Brenden has as well. He’s a naturally strong leader as the only male on the team. He’s picked up so many skills that he didn’t think he could get. Shelby leads the team in a lot of different ways – with her encouragement and with her actions. She works really, really hard in the offseason, not just in practice.”

The hard work just might pave a road to nationals come March. That type of achievement remains a standing goal for the program.

Said Maser, “(Coach) Emilie (Ashenbach) and I have really devoted ourselves to building Concordia up to be national contenders for both cheer and dance. We continue to work hard for that every single practice. We are really hoping to get there, and these kids deserve to have that experience. I want them to be able to say they were the first teams to be able to do that for competitive cheer and dance at Concordia.”

Added Timmerman, “It’s all score-based so we constantly talk about things we want to do as the season goes on. We have to get the best scores we can so we can go to nationals. Nationals is the dream. We’re going to try to make that happen this year.”

The competition season will get started on Jan. 18 when the Bulldogs will host Morningside in conjunction with basketball that evening. The program is looking forward to CIT coming up on Jan. 28 and is excited to host the Concordia Duals (featuring 14 total institutions) on Feb. 11. The complete schedule can be found HERE.