Cheer Evolution Nationals!

This weekend was Cheer Evolution Nationals in Niagara Falls! What an exciting weekend!

This has always been one of my favourite competitions, because it’s so big and you get to see so much talent from teams far away and nearby! There is so much cheerleading spirit everywhere! As an athlete, it was my first and last competition of this season, so it was super exciting.

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FRIDAY: I competed in the Specialty Division with an individual Hybrid level 5 Stunt group. It was my first time competing in a specialty division so it was doubly exciting and nerve-wracking! On the warm-up mat, I ran into the girls from Cheetahs Cheerleading and their head coach Tracy, and they were so happy to see me and so supportive and encouraging! (I helped coach them at the beginning of this year with Tracy.) I was so nervous on Friday that I literally could not eat much all day! Practice warm-up went well though, and I was looking forward to showing off my skills on the mat. The performance went well, and it was really nice to hear lots of support from the other DCA athletes and from the Cheetahs girls. I think I rushed through the routine a little bit and wasn’t as sharp as I could have been, so I missed some of my counts holding my scale and pulling my scorp higher. But, everything hit and it felt easy to do. Watching the video after, I think there is quite a bit I can improve on, and next year I definitely want to add difficulty if I do a stunt group comp again (which I want to!!). Everyone was so supportive after I was done though and said I did really well! I wish I could do it again! It’s so sad performing at the last competition in general, because you’ve worked so hard for this one routine, and then after you perform it, you never have to do it again and it feels kind of like breaking-up lol. It felt so familiar and solid, and then all of a sudden there is a bit of a void, and then you have to get used to a new season with new stunts and a new routine! The other DCA girls also competed in a level 3 stunt group, and a few indys and a duo, and everyone pushed through and did great! At awards, my stunt group got 3rd out of 4 teams, which I thought was pretty good considering it was my first one ever!

SATURDAY/SUNDAY: While this year I had not been practicing with Platinum, DCA’s Intl. Open Coed 5 team, a girl sadly got injured a week before, so I was asked to fill in for her as a flyer in her stunts. Getting to compete with Platinum was really exciting for me, and I felt confident as the stunts I had to do were easy, and the dance was really fun to perform! I wasn’t really nervous, and had no trouble on Satruday! I think everyone felt really good about that run and most stunts hit well. We were standing in second place that night, with 2 teams behind us and the PCT Cobras Worlds team ahead. The DCA Parent team, Golden Dragons also performed on Saturday, and really had a blast! The CheerForce Parent team that went before them deserves a shout-out as well – they wowed the crowd with some back-handspringing action by an athletic mom, and some solid stunts such as a 4-2-1 pyramid, co-ed toss-hands-cupie, and other solid stunts by parents.

Niagara Falls-20130512-00813On Sunday Platinum did okay too, there was a bit of worry on the practice mats, but I think we pulled together nicely, and despite me not executing my basket perfectly (did just a pike on Sunday vs. a pike X-out on Saturday), we still ended up in 2nd place when all was said and done. The Cobras Worlds team that beat us was really amazing (on the practice mat; I didn’t get to watch them because they went right before us both days), and I’m sure their 1st place was well-deserved. The other DCA teams were great too – I got to watch and cheer on the Snow Dragons’ clean routine, and they got 2nd too! Great work to the Ruby dragons as well!

On Sunday, I saw the Cheetahs’ Crimson Senior 2 team perform. For the first few months of this season I had the pleasure of helping coach these ladies (and Devin!), and I have to say I was really impressed with what they put on that floor. They have really grown so much and really pulled through together, executing a clean, passionate routine that left them standing as National Champs in first place! I am so happy for these Cheetahs – they have such heart and passion! Congrats!!

A few other shout-outs: The Cheer Sport Sharks’ White Cheek youth 5 sharks were really something to see! Very  impressive skills and very solid stunting!! I also had the pleasure of seeing the Great White Sharks perform… WOW! This was perfection, and they were the well-deserved Grand Champions of Level 5. Such sharp stunts and such clean tumbling – not a stumble or a bobble! Very inspiring!! I was sad that I didn’t get a chance to watch the open teams of CCA Panthers, as these used to be my teammates, but unfortunately we had to go into warm-up just as they were getting on the floor. It was really great seeing them all however, and everyone was so supportive and nice. One interesting thing is that the Vancouver All-Stars weren’t present this year.

Anyway, congrats to everyone who competed! See you all next season!

Live. Love. Cheer.


My Gym

This year I’ve kind of put this blog on hold as I tried to figure out my life post school, and I regret not documenting my cheer year here, because it was truly a memorable one. In the spirit of this past weekend’s Cheer Evolution Nationals 2013 competition however, I feel it mandatory to get back into blogging about my true passion. This year has been a bit rough for me, and honestly, the one thing that has gotten me through and has always been there for me was my cheer gym, DCA. As soon as I walk into that gym I feel my worries melt away and the only thing I need to focus on is training. It’s like a sort of meditation. Let me walk you through it.

You walk down the stairs, walk through the welcoming open deep purple door, and are greeted by a sea of purple. As far as the eye can see, it’s purple sprung floor for miles (seemingly), beckoning you to come forth and leave your heart onto it. If you come at just the right time, when the sun is right over the gym and high up in the sky, large sun spots projected from the square skylights will be dancing on the violet strips of the floor – spotlights, ready for you to shine underneath them. It’s a beautiful sight. In the far end a rope hangs down mysteriously, ready to lift you high into the never-ending ceiling, so high it might as well be sky. Should you choose to take up its tempting offer, you’ll have to work hard to reach the top, but once you do, you will be rewarded with a sight like no other, a new dimension of the Purple Gym. If height is really not your thing, perhaps the 50 foot tumble track can lure you in with its shiny black surface and promise of a strong, controlled bounce. It’s easy to picture yourself tumbling along, handspring after handspring of bouncy bliss.

It’s quiet in the gym. The other athletes haven’t yet arrived, filling it with the happy sounds of accomplishments and cheers. But soon they will. There is an industrial type of musky scent in the air, fresh and cool, yet strong. I like this smell. It’s familiar and comforting. It sticks to your practice clothes and shoes, and when you go home and you take them out of your bag, you can still smell purple pride on them, laced with that day’s accomplishments.

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I like my gym. At a time when you’re feeling lost and confused, it provides relief from life, from stress, from pressure, even if it is just temporary. The challenges of learning skills, and the feeling of accomplishing them gives me purpose and satisfaction. Travis, DCA’s owner and head coach really motivates you and celebrates and recognizes every small accomplishment, taking the time to connect with every athlete, to make them feel included, special, and important members of the gym. He is a walking sport and body encyclopedia, and is dedicated to coaching through proper and repeated drills and progressions, through hard conditioning  and smart working rather than a ‘just do it’ or ‘just throw it’ stunt and tumble philosophy that is still widespread practice in many gyms.

When I started writing this post, I didn’t mean to turn it into a review of my gym, so I apologize if this feels too ‘scripted’. I simply want to share my love for this place, because it welcomed me so wholeheartedly and helped me out a lot this year. Those purple mats really have a way of etching themselves straight into your heart.

Live. Love. Cheer.