CUAA cheer bid

The NAIA competitive cheer and dance national championships are coming to Washtenaw County, and together with the Ann Arbor Sports Commission, Concordia University Ann Arbor will be the host!

As the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) began searching for a host for both the 2021 and 2022 championship events, CUAA decided to submit a bid.

Together with university partners from the Ann Arbor Sports Commission, the championships will take place at the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center, located just three miles southeast of Concordia’s campus.

“Hosting an event of this magnitude will be a great opportunity to bring people to Ann Arbor area and expose what Concordia is all about; we are eager to put on a great event that is meaningful to student athletes and the NAIA schools they represent,” said CUAA Director of Athletics Lonnie Pries. “We want to share a special thank you to our partners at the Ann Arbor Sports Commission and Eastern Michigan University to help make this possible.”

The host selection was announced by the NAIA at the end of September.

“We look forward to working with the Ann Arbor Sports Commission and Concordia University as they host the NAIA’s Competitive Cheer and Dance National Championships in 2021 and 2022,” said NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr. “The state-of-the-art facility will provide a fantastic experience for our student-athletes, coaches, and fans.”

The annual event features performances from the top 12 competitive cheer and 12 competitive dance squads from around the nation, performing in both preliminary and final routines in the championships’ two-day event.

EMU’s facility is a state-of-the-art arena that can seat over 8,700 fans, featuring a four-sided, center-hung video board and digital ribbon surrounding the arena floor.

Mike Malach, Executive Director of the Ann Arbor Sports Commission through Destination Ann Arbor, says the goal will be to host a first-rate events and world-class experience for the coaches and student athletes involved in the championship.

Hosting an event of this magnitude will quite an undertaking, with expected crowds in the thousands. The CUAA athletic department and the Ann Arbor Sports Commission will particularly be responsible for the overall execution of the tournament as well as a Team Up for Character event for all participants and a student athlete banquet experience.

As the 2019 NAIA competitive cheer national champions, the Concordia Cardinals cheer program is not a stranger to this event. Cardinals Cheer Head Coach Kate Edge has led the program since its conception in 2009 and was named by the NAIA as competitive cheer coach of the year in 2019 as well as in 2017.

Concordia’s cheer program has held steady through two national invitational appearances (2015, 2016) before the official NAIA recognition and approval as a national championship-level sport, three national championships appearances (2017, 2018, 2019), a conference championship, first place at the regional qualifier, and then, ultimately, becoming the reigning 2019 competitive cheer national champions.

The 2021 and 2022 NAIA competitive cheer and dance national championships will take place the second weekend in March both in 2021 and 2022 at the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center located at 799 N Hewitt Rd, Ypsilanti, MI 48197.

Concordia Cardinals athletics is home to 26 varsity-level programs, with the newest program addition of esports launching in fall 2020. Learn more at

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

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