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HBCU cheerleading visionary creates format to honor black squads
By Steven J. Gaither,
HBCU cheerleading, particularly of the stomp and shake variety, is red hot right now. Hardly a week goes by when a video featuring all-black cheer teams — either HBCU cheerleaders or black high schools — goes viral.
But Regan Hales wants more than viral moments for these squads. The former Winston-Salem State cheerleader is the founder of The National Stomp And Shake Cheerleading Federation.
“The National Stomp And Shake Cheerleading Federation was an organization that was created out of what we just didn’t have — on the championship side,” Hales said. “You have amazing living legends like Dr. Paulette Johnson from Virginia State University. You have a living legend like Debra Rivers Johnson of Winston-Salem State University. You have so many people that have made their mark in this world of Stomp and Shake. They just did it out of their passion and what they love.”
Hales, a 2010 graduate of WSSU, decided she wanted to push the movement forward. While Xavier’s (XULA) HBCU cheerleading squad won the 2022 NAIA title, many of the schools that are more stomp-and-shake centric have limited competition options. Most of the larger competitions for cheerleaders don’t incorporate or even acknowledge elements of the stomp-and-shake style that permeates from North Carolina and Virginia.
“And so when I thought about it, I was like, where are the rules and the regulations? Like what governs us as a unit? Anybody at this moment can come up with a competition. But how come we’re not on the same page? How come we’re still operating in what seems to be a lack? So after having that conversation so many times, I said, Bump it, let me do what we need to do. How do you judge the various styles in Stomp and Shake?
“You do have some minority teams that would say, ‘I’m not necessarily stomp and shake, non-traditional… I’m not non-traditional…We kinda get iffy there,” Hales said. “So we said, whether you call yourselves stomp and shake or not, we see you. We see that we don’t necessarily get the recognition on these larger floors that we would love to be able to see. So let’s create the opportunity. We don’t have to wait for it. Let’s create.”
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