Long gone are the days where cheerleading was just women standing at the side of a basketball court.
Now, cheerleaders as young as 8 are travelling the world to compete in International competitions. Check out the highlights from the 2016 Cheerleading Worlds competition.
But away from the “cheer-lebrities” and the big competitions are the young girls and boys who do it for the love of the sport.
Competing and Coaching
I started cheerleading at the age of 18 at university. For the first year, we were basically dancers. The second year saw us hire a cheerleading coach and compete in a national university cheerleading competition.
I have never felt joy like it.
Running onto that blue mat with 20 of your friends to perform a routine you’ve been working on for a year is incredible, and finishing the routine with no mistakes makes it even better.
I’ve been lucky enough to coach two programs to top 3 trophies and I think watching your squad hit the routine you taught them is the best feeling I’ve ever had. Even better than winning 2nd place in my last cheerleading competition.
You work so hard on creating a routine and working out how to teach it to these kids that you will literally be up at 3 in the morning with an Excel spreadsheet counting to 8 over and over. Dance music will come on your Spotify and you’ll try and work out if you can make a piece of the routine fit to that song.
But as an athlete, it has taught me so many things, and I can see it as a coach too.
The athletes learn that you don’t get things done by focusing on yourself. You need the whole team to work together to accomplish your dreams. Yes, they have their own work to do as an individual, but if one person in the team or stunt group doesn’t do their job, then the stunt doesn’t work. Worst case scenario, someone falls and gets injured.
A little cheer lesson for you.
The girl in the air pulling that fancy leg thing is called a flyer. She flies through the air.
The girls and guys holding her feet are called bases and backspots.
So I was a base and backspot because I’m tall and strong. One day at practice, we were drilling the stunts in the picture, called libs. We lifted the flyer up, and as we lifted her, she kneed me in the ear.
Yeah, ouch. She’s now a flyer on Coventry Dynamite who competed at Cheerleading Worlds in 2017.
See how the flyers in the picture have their supporting leg straight? That keeps them stable. When you bend your leg, you get floppy and fall.
We were practicing libs with a different flyer and she bent her leg. I caught her. Around my neck. On my own. She was practically a scarf.
I dislocated my collarbone and it hasn’t been the same since (still love you Danni!) so I had to retire and have been coaching here and there ever since.
It’s not just the sport that I miss, it’s the feeling of family.
The people on your team are your family. Cheerleaders are family.
THAT is the main reason why everyone should try cheerleading. You will always be welcomed.