Want to start a debate? Easy. Ask a cheerleader if cheerleading is a sport. I have to say, I’m slightly biased when it comes to the topic because I’ve been an athlete, coach, judge, and supporter of cheer more than half my life. Most paint the image of girls with pom poms on the sidelines of a football game with the sole job of amping up the crowd for the home team. While this isn’t necessarily wrong (there’s still a thing called Game Day Cheer), it’s definitely outdated. Now, us cheerleaders have our own audience and fortunately, the sport has been receiving more attention for its true athleticism thanks to shows like the very popular Cheer on Netflix.
First, the basics. What you need to know about cheerleading:
Combine these elements into a 2 minute and 30 second (give or take) routine and voila! Cheer is born. Those two minutes are filled with a mix of adrenaline, endurance, and heart.
Cheerleading has evolved into a unique sport combining performance with intense physical activity and evidence of this can be seen here in our very own province where Saskatchewan teams have been competing (and placing) across Canada, the United States and beyond for years! Within our province, we (usually) have 6 large competitions and a few of them include bids – you need to earn your spot and invitation – to Worlds in Orlando, Florida. The opportunity to travel and compete internationally is now a reality for our SK-based teams.
Unfortunately, this year looks a bit different for our athletes. With limitations on practices, travelling and competing, we’re making the best of 2020 by ensuring our athletes’ safety and health with alternative options like virtual competitions. Unheard of prior to this year, the cheer community is coming up with innovative solutions to make sure kids have something to look forward to. Plus, on top of that, the Saskatchewan Cheerleading Association has created an array of resources like the Return to Activity Plan for our clubs to safely have kids at practice.
Saskatchewan has seen tremendous growth in the province the last ten years. There are gyms representing many communities in the province including Regina, Saskatoon, Warman, Lloydminster, Moose Jaw, and more! Wherever you live, there’s more than likely a program for your kids (or yourself).
The inclusion the sport brings is phenomenal. While it is true the sport is female-dominant, there are an increasing number of boys in cheer. Plus, no matter your age, young or old, there’s a team for you. We’re also seeing more gyms offer Cheer Abilities programs where teams are made up of athletes with varying types of limitations.
The truth is cheerleaders are well-rounded athletes and Saskatchewan has some very talented participants. Stunt, tumble, dance – and look happy doing it! Not an easy feat, but the SK athletes are always up for the challenge.
To find out more about in-province cheerleading events and clubs, check out the Saskatchewan Cheerleading Association.
*photos displayed are from Saskatchewan teams at 2018 Provincials.
-Ashley Herchak is the Marketing Manager – Digital Platforms at Directwest
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