Many who visit Sarnia for the first time come away with the opinion that this area is one of Ontario’s best kept secrets.
From a local sports and recreation standpoint, the same might be said of Bluewater Cheer Athletics.
Tucked away in a refurbished warehouse in a part of town known more for grit than grace, coaches and co-owners Jodi Bore and Sarah Faubert continue in their effort to educate the public about the cheerleading club and its programs.
“This is a building year for us,” said Bore, who ran the program out of the “Y” before it outgrew the Finch Drive space.
The club moved to its current Confederation Street space last October.
“Our goal is to build numbers so that Sarah and I can one day do this full-time,” she said.
The club offers four competitive teams, two pre-competitive teams, three recreational programs, summer camps, and a special needs program run in partnership with Pathways Health Centre for Children.
Athletes in the competitive program range from six to 18 years old, while those in the recreational programs range from three to 15 years old.
They come from Sarnia, Corunna, Petrolia, London and the Port Huron area.
“We’re like a big family,” said Bore, who insists her athletes not miss or be late for practices.
Balancing commitment to the club, school, jobs and their social life teaches responsibility, she said.
“You can’t miss (practice) just because you don’t feel like it,” said co-owner Sarah Faubert, noting the programs offer the girls a sense of accomplishment and keeps them out of trouble during their formative years.
The health benefits, including increased coordination, strength and flexibility, are well documented, she said.
“There are studies that show that cheerleaders are in better shape than many Olympic athletes.”
As for the girls, they talk about the health aspects and camaraderie
“I just love it,” said 17-year-old Alina Medeiros. “It’s increased my self-confidence.
“I really enjoy being with the girls,” added Taylor Davies, 15. “It’s so physical. I really feel good after practice.”
But what about the boys?
While they are more than welcome, the club is exclusively female to date, said Jodi Bore.
But, she’s hoping that may change.
“No one (locally) is willing to cross that barrier just yet.”
The club’s next competitive competition is May 24 at Canada’s Wonderland.
The club will also show off its talent during exhibitions at Sarnia’ s Funfest in early June, and during the Canada Day parade.
More information can be found at www.bluewatercheerathletics.com
– Barry Wright