This story first appeared in the fall 2019 issue of the Arbor Light, the official magazine of Concordia University Ann Arbor.

Cardinal fans had a lot to celebrate throughout the 2018–19 academic year. The hard work and dedication of over 500 student-athletes and coaches led to all-time-high achievements in athletic department history.

The pinnacle performance occurred when Concordia University Ann Arbor’s competitive cheer team took first place at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national championships on March 9, 2019. This victory is the first national championship title earned by a team in Concordia’s 56-year history, with the first individual title earned in 2018 when Stephanie Johnston (’18) won the women’s marathon at the NAIA outdoor track and field national championships.

“When it dawned on me that we won I thought, ‘Oh my goodness. It happened. This is happening,’” said Head Cheer Coach Kate Edge, who also oversees CUAA’s competitive dance and stunt teams, and was later named the NAIA coach of the year. “When they announced the third place team, then I knew we would either be second or first. I walked over to our team and reminded them, ‘Remember what we said, we are proud of our performance no matter what.’”

The cheer squad’s 2018–19 season motto “One Step Closer” drove them to focus on the task at hand each day of the season, taking it one step, one stunt, and one routine at a time until they reached their ultimate goal of performing a zero deduction routine at nationals.

And they achieved it.

While Concordia Cardinals athletic programs accomplished many accolades within the athletic arena, there were also big wins off the field throughout the year. Champions of Character awards, academic honors, and active Athletes in Action community groups continue to support the fulfillment of Concordia’s mission to develop students in mind, body, and spirit for service to Christ in the Church and the world.

Learn more at

The fall 2019 Arbor Light hit mailboxes the beginning of October. View a PDF version of the magazine here. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, call 734-995-7317 or send us an email.

— Rachel Thoms served on Concordia University's Strategic Communications team from 2015-2022. Any inquiries about this story can be sent to

If this story has inspired you, why not explore how you can help further Concordia's mission through giving.