The perfect cheerleading routine is a mix of technique, timing, choreography and showmanship, says Jodie Bore, co-owner of Sarnia’s Bluewater Cheer Athletics.
“I tell my kids all the time, don’t be a team that people look and say, ‘it’s time to go to the bathroom.’”
That approach seems to be working.
In only its fourth season Bluewater Cheer is sending 78 athletes to a huge international cheerleading meet at Disneyland in Florida, simply known as The Summit.
Of the club’s seven competitive teams – each has around 20 members – five are headed to Disney for the May 5-7 showdown.
“We’re going in there and saying, you guys have the fight of your life. We’re up against the big dogs,” Bore said.
Two junior teams, two youth teams and one senior team earned their chance to go through competition results compiled over the 11-month cheerleading season.
Competing is one thing, but placing at the 900-team competition will be another.
But at Provincials this year, a Bluewater Cheer junior team posted the tournament’s highest score, topping 400 Ontario squads. It was an impressive result considering some of the athletes are new to the sport.
“On every single team of these Summit kids we have at least one, if not five or six kids, that are brand new to cheer this year,” said Bore, who emphasized they master foundational skills before attempting higher-risk maneuvers.
“As long as they’re committed, we can turn anybody into an amazing athlete here.”
Coach and co-owner Sarah Faubert said attending The Summit feels surreal.
“Just seeing our names on the list of the most famous gyms in the States, it’s hard to believe that we’re even going,” she said.
Faubert, who’s been involved in cheerleading for a decade, said the teams learn to depend on each other, and while learning world-class routines they build camaraderie.
“Whenever anybody learns a new skill, the whole gym claps and cheers for them. It’s such a nice moment.”
The athletes, who range from first grade to high school, spend three to 10 hours a week at the Bluewater Cheer Athletics facility on Confederation Street.
Brittany Ward, 16, said cheerleading is about more than achieving competition results.
“Basically, cheer is my life,” said the Great Lakes Secondary student.
“This is my place away from the world, away from all problems. This is where I come to be me and this is my family. I love everything about it.”
Bluewater Cheer Athletics is fundraising to offset the $60,000 cost of travelling to The Summit in Florida. Its Facebook page has more on competitions and fundraising at www.facebook.com/BluewaterCheerAthletics.