USASF Gone Wild?

In an unexpected announcement, taking the all-star cheer world by storm, USASF decided to make an announcement last night, March 28th, with amendments to its rules for the 2012/2013 season. Before I comment on anything, here is a list of what those changes include, in case you’re not yet familiar with it (if you are, then scroll down past them for my blog post):

Tumbling:

  • Standing fulls and standing double fulls are not allowed Double fulls are only allowed in running tumbling and must be preceded by a back handspring
  • Consecutive bounding, twisting skills are not allowed

Age Grid:

  • All Open teams (5 and 6 [also Open 4 if it is added in the future]) must be 17yrs old and older
  • Eliminate the International age rule for U.S.A. teams
  • All athletes on USA teams must be of the legal age according to the age grid by August 31st of that season. This includes Worlds. The rule, an athlete may be younger than the allowed age as long as he/she becomes of the legal age by the calendar year of the competition, no longer stands
  • Eliminate Mini L3
  • Eliminate Youth 5 Restricted by placing the following limitations on Youth 5: No tumbling double fulls; No kick doubles in baskets; Braced flips may not twist
  • Youth top age is raised to 12
  • No longer separate Junior Coed 3 and 4 from their counterpart All Girl teams
  • Bottom age on Senior teams, Levels 1-4 and Senior 5R, will be 10 years old – Senior 5 teams will remain at 12

In addition, the USASF has developed a new “Image and Etiquette Policy”:

IMAGE POLICY

Judges reserve the right to assess warnings and/or deductions when a team’s choreography, uniform, make up, bows etc. do not meet the standards of ‘appropriate’ as described in this policy.

APPROPRIATE CHOREOGRAPHY – in effect 2012/2013 season

All facets of a performance/routine, including both choreography and music selection, should be appropriate and suitable for family viewing and listening.

Examples of inappropriate choreography may include, but are not limited to, movements such as hip thrusting and inappropriate touching, gestures, hand/arm movements and signals, slapping, positioning of body parts and positioning to one another. Music or words unsuitable for family listening, which includes, but is not limited, to swearwords and connotations of any type of sexual act or behavior, drugs, explicit mention of specific parts of the body torso, and/or violent acts or behavior are other examples of inappropriate choreography. Removing improper language or words from a song and replacing with sound effects or other words may still constitute ‘inappropriate.’

Music or movement in which the appropriateness is questionable or with which uncertainty exists should be assumed by the coach to be inappropriate and removed as to not put their team in an unfortunate situation.

APPROPRIATE UNIFORM – in effect 2015/2016 season

General Uniform Guidelines

No risqué, sexually provocative or lingerie looking or inspired uniform or garments allowed. All uniform pieces should adequately cover an athlete and must be secured to eliminate any possible wardrobe malfunction. Appropriate undergarments must be worn. In addition to the below specific guidelines, athletes must also consider that a combination of uniform pieces may also deem a uniform appropriate or inappropriate.

Uniform Skirts/Shorts Guidelines

When a skirt is worn as part of the uniform, briefs under the skirt are required. The skirt must fully cover the hips. The skirt must completely cover the briefs and must fall at least 1 inch below briefs (regular and boy cut briefs). When shorts are worn as part of the uniform, there must be a minimum of a 2” inseam.

Uniform Top Guidelines

Uniform tops may not include an exposed midriff except for Seniors which may have a maximum of 10” between the skirt/short top and the uniform top bottom. Uniform tops must be secured by straps or material over at least one shoulder or around the neck (tube tops are not allowed).

COVER UP GUIDELINES – in effect 2012/2013 season

Athletes with non-full top uniforms must wear a t-shirt or other suitable cover up over their uniforms unless they are in the warm-up area, traveling as a group directly to or from the warm up area, or on the performance stage.

MAKEUP AND OTHER – goes into effect with the 2012-2013 season, but will not be enforceable by deduction until the 2013-2014 season.

Makeup – Makeup should be uniform and appropriate for both the performance and the age of the athletes. Face/Eyelid Rhinestones are not allowed. False eyelashes are allowed but may not be decorated in rhinestones or additional jewelry.

Bows – Bows should not be excessive in size (acceptable bows are generally no more than 3” in width) and shouldn’t be a distraction to the performance. Bows should be worn in a manner to minimize risk for the participants, should be adequately secured and should not fall over the forehead into the participants’ eyes or block the view of the participant while performing.

ETIQUETTE POLICY: 

AT ARRIVAL:

  • arrive looking the way you expect to compete
  • wear only outer wear approved by your Program
  • Don’t arrive at the event without wearing full uniform and hair done
  • Don’t arrive wearing sweatpants, pajama bottoms, trendy boots or jewelry

AT VENUE:

  • demonstrate Good Sportsmanship in the stands, restroom, outer halls, and everywhere
  • keep your uniform on and fully zipped at all times, and change only in the restroom
  • Don’t speak negatively about other individuals, teams, or programs
  • Don’t swear or use vulgar language
  • Don’t use social media to brag, belittle or ridicule any person, team or program
  • Don’t change into uniform, practice wear or “street clothes” in the stands or halls

AT AWARDS CEREMONY:

  • applaud for all Participants
  • wait to cheer for your Team until your name is called
  • follow directions of the Announcer, stay on the floor until dismissed, and congratulate all Teams
  • Don’t jump up and down when the 2nd Place Team is called if it isn’t your Team
  • Don’t overly emphasize the win, with overt displays of excitement
  • Don’t demonstrate disrespect by not allowing others their moment of recognition

ALWAYS USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO PROMOTE POSITIVE THOUGHTS, IDEAS, AND IMAGES

IN ADDITION: [Supposedly to ‘minimize’ the negative stereotypes associated with our sport]

  • Uniforms and Makeup should be age and gender appropriate
  • Hair should look natural and styled in a manner that is not a distraction to the Judges or routine
  • Choreography is combined with an athletic routine and complemented by appropriate music for all audiences
  • Education is promoted and successes are rewarded
  • Positive attitudes are demonstrated through discipline, unity, sportsmanship, leadership, and respect
  • Don’t wear overly glitzy makeup, uniforms that don’t fit correctly, or uniforms or makeup that is not age or gender appropriate
  • Athleticism should be male and female appropriate
  • Avoid anything overtly sexual or flirtatious
  • Males should minimize exaggerated or theatrical movements
  • Don’t place a lack of emphasis on education
  • Attitude should not be unsportsmanlike, suggestive, sexual, or include flirtatious music, movements, or voice overs

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Learning to Tumble at Twenty

For most all-star cheerleaders, tumbling is a skill that is picked up either before cheer altogether, or is learned along with cheer at a very young age.

I was introduced to power cheer at an age where most elite cheerleaders are already competing at world’s – and here I was, seventeen and learning double-base cradles. Tumbling wasn’t much of a question – on my high school team our most advance tumbling pass was a running cart-wheel. Our routines didn’t even have a tumbling section.

Then I somehow made it on my college team, where I realized I’d have to learn to tumble pretty quickly if I wanted to continue cheering. I remember watching a level 1 team at my first competition and admiring their back walkovers, which seemed like a difficult feat to me. Handsprings felt like something I could only dream of, and people who could handspring were my idols.

So after a gruelling three-month summer of once a week tumbling, I managed to achieve a bridge-walkover. Though I had once marvelled at this skill, I wasn’t satisfied in the least. I was by far one of the oldest girls in the class, and I watched with envy as 14 year-olds tucked, flipped, and twisted effortlessly. My semi-walkover seemed pathetic in comparison. I had level 1 tumbling (barely) on a level 5 team.

I knew that if I could just spend more time and practice a lot, I could achieve a handspring. And OH, how I wanted that handspring!

I was never quite satisfied with skills I achieved, even in stunting. I wanted to  get my scorp in the air so bad, and while I was happy the day I got it, by next practice I was already looking ahead to what skills I still hadn’t achieved. The same ethic applied to my tumbling. A back walkover meant nothing since the day I got it.

The following year I transitioned to all-star cheer. They didn’t have a tumbling requirement, but I knew that if I wanted to go far I’d have to tumble. I had an advantage, being a flyer, but I still didn’t feel like a well-rounded cheerleader. After all, what kind of cheerleader couldn’t tumble?

At the time, I couldn’t take any more tumble classes, because the gym was too far away from my school, and I couldn’t afford the costs either.

Finally, in my last year of university, and at 21 years old, I put my mind into achieving some basic tumbling, and I started taking private lessons at a gymnastics gym close to my school. After 3 lessons, I was doing unassisted back handsprings on the trampoline, and learning back tucks off the mini tramp. I’ve been taking lessons for a month and a half, and am starting to work on round-off back handsprings on the tumble track. I thoroughly enjoy the classes, and feel no pressure because I’m only competing with myself, and every small feat feels big to me. I hope to take my handsprings to the floor soon, and believe I can do it.

But I can’t help but wonder if my body will give out at some point, and limit my progress. After all, most tumblers start out much younger than me. The non-tumblers on my team all claim that they’re too old to learn to tumble, but is that just a restriction of the mind, or is it really possible to learn to tumble at twenty? Is there an age that’s too old for this sport? Or can willpower trump age? Does this age apply to stunting too?  I’m not sure, but I’m not about to let the answer stop me from trying.

Cheer on!


OCF Provincials 2011

Yesterday was a rather emotional and very long day! Technically, it was a two-day competition, but luckily for our team we only had to compete Sunday. We competed in the Open 4.2 category. We had two runs, and pushed hard. We got there at 12:30 and had our first run around 3pm. First warm-up didn’t go so well, but luckily we pulled through when we got to the floor. I personally felt really good about that first run, in terms of my own stunts, except for a part in one of our pyramids that I fixed for the second run. I was extremely nervous for the first run, but I think that made me push harder and give it my all. Plus, I felt like throwing up right after, which is a good sign meaning that I did my best.

After the first run we were in second place with a team ahead of us and one behind us. We really, really knew we HAD to bring it all for the second run, because the team that was ahead of us wasn’t beating us by much, and we knew our routine was good enough to win if we gave it all.

Right before warm-up for the second run, we were all so exhausted already, that I wondered how we would bring it all on the floor. We conserved our energy during the second warm-up and only did a few stunts. I was a little bummed out that for our second run our coach decided to take out a few back walkovers (that I was super excited and had practiced a lot for) but in the end, it made sense since they weren’t perfect and were making the routine pretty messy. Guess I’ll just work extra hard to perfect them and hurry up and get my handspring already. (I know, I know, what kind of a cheerleader am I without a handspring is what you’re thinking lol.)

Anyways, despite the grogginess, we pulled through and (I hope) lit up the floor for run number two. Apparently we didn’t light it up enough, because we still ended up placing second, but we gave it our all and in the end of the day, the rest is out of our control. Shout outs to Wolverine Elite from Niagara, who came in first, as well as to Empire Cheer Eagles who came in third and put on a good performance too.

I was so exhausted when I finally got home, that when I fell asleep I had wild dreams of tumbling passes and back handsprings and a crazy fierce competition I was at… yes, cheerleaders really do eat, breathe, and SLEEP cheer. I kept waking up though because my arm was really sore and bruised up. Anyways, now we’re all off to practice for another two weeks so we can kick some French-Canadian  butt in Montreal!!

OH I almost forgot to also give shout outs to CCA’s own Blue, Black and Silver teams who did amazing as well. Black team were Provincial Champs out of 6 other teams, and Silver placed 3rd! HURRAY CCA!

Well, that’s all for now!

Cheer on!

-Mina

PS. Kyleigh and I have officially decided that when we open our own cheer gym one day, our animal mascot will be the Elephants. Or the Hyenas…that would go over pretty well I think. No?


Team Canada Cheer!

Okay so before I go on to talk about this exciting event, I just want to mention that CCA Panthers’ Elite team competed in Cheer Evolution’s (formerly Cheer Alliance) Provincials competition this weekend both Saturday and Sunday and did great! They were going for a bid to World’s, but despite their great runs didn’t qualify because they didn’t have enough males on the team 😦 . But we love them and are super proud anyway!!

So now, to the important stuff – actually I should have blogged about this a few weeks ago when it actually happened, but I was overwhelmed with getting ready for Regionals and school etc. and didn’t have much time for blogging. SO, to compete at the International Cheer Union’s Annual World Cheerleading Cup Championship, TEAM CANADA’s roster was announced a few weeks ago! Led and trained by the Canadian Cheer Union, Team Canada is made up of some of Canada’s top gymnasts, tumblers, flyers, bases, and thirds! This year, they are gathered from 6 provinces and 14 different cheer gyms from around the country. So, are you ready to hear which gyms these athletes came from?

Power Cheer Toronto (PCT) and Cheer Force Wolf Pack (CFWP) tied at the top, each sending out a staggering 14 athletes divided up between the co-ed and all-girl teams. Next was Ultimate Canadian Cheer (UCC) with 13 athletes, two of which are competing in the co-ed partner stunt, 8 in the co-ed team, and 4 in the All-girl team. Vancouver All-Stars (VAS) had 10 athletes in total, 4 of which make up the  all-girl partner stunt, and CSS (Mary Ward) had 8 athletes on the all-girl team. Others include one athlete from UWO Mustangs, Power Cheer Calgary (PCC),  Supercats Cheer Motion Quebec,  U of Saskatchewan Huskies, Champion Spirit Athletics (New Brunswick), East Coast Spirit (ECS), and University of Waterloo. Great job to all who made it, but I have to say I’m proud that it seems Ontario is producing the best cheerleaders!

Here is a video of last year (2010) Team Canada’s All-Girl Performance!!

And here is Team Canada Coed! (2010)

The ICU World Cup Championships will be taking place on April 28th-29th 2011 in Orlando, Florida.

Good luck to everyone in training, and we will be rooting for you, Team Canada!!! C-A-N-A-D-A Canada, Let’s – Go – Canada!