It’s official-I am a coach at Extreme Cheer Sensation here in Lethbridge! I have been shadowing classes and teaching a little over the summer but I didn’t feel it was official until my bio was on the website! I’m so excited to be a part of this competitive program. I get to coach the 8 and under team which will be so much fun to watch these girls grow into amazing cheerleaders.
My Cheer History
I have been obsessed with cheerleading ever since I moved from Fort McMurray to Seattle and saw school cheerleaders on the football sidelines. I couldn’t believe cheerleading was real! It’s not a very popular sport in Canada (though that’s changing) and I had never seen a cheerleader besides on TV.
I lost enough weight and gained enough confidence that I signed up for school cheer tryouts for my senior year. But before the tryout process began my parents told me we were moving to Hawaii that summer so I dropped out of tryouts since I wouldn’t be attending that school.
Na Ali’i All Stars
I wasn’t ready to give up on my cheerleading dream and as soon as we moved to Hawaii I pulled out the phone book and looked for cheer gym and found Hawaii Cheer Company, home of the Na Ali’i All Stars. I didn’t plan to try out for all star when I had my mom drive me in to talk to the coaches, I just wanted to take classes so I could try out for the school team but the coach said I was athletic and since I had a gymnastics background he suggested I try out for the all star team.
My try out was just me during a practice, learning stunts and tumbling. I wasn’t nearly as advanced as these girls but I tried my best to show them I had potential. When we drove away my mom told me to forget it, she said I sucked compared to those other girls and there was no way they were going to let me on the team. Needless to say I was pretty unhappy. But a couple days later I got the call that they wanted me on the team and I did rub it in her face (sorry mom!)
Practices were three times a week but the gym also offered an Open Gym every day during the summer. I went to the gym every single day except Sundays. My step dad even bought me a junky car because my parents were sick of driving me in and out every day. By the end of the summer I had my jumps down, a back handspring and was almost there with my back tuck. It was actually two days after I received my uniform that my parents told me we were moving back to Seattle.
Pacific Storm All Stars
I had given up on my cheerleading dream until I met a girl on the first day of school who was a member of a new all star team that had just formed over the summer, Pacific Storm All Stars. My friend Meghan and I went in for an open tryout during one of their practices and were both asked to be on their large squad (the less advanced one). I was so happy I was getting to cheer! And I was one of three girls on our team who could tumble so I got to put all that hard work at Hawaii Cheer Company to good use.
I spent my senior year going to practises twice a week and to competitions in Montana, Oregon and Washington.
Coaching Middle School
I started coaching cheer in grade 12. In Washington, students had a senior project which was a large scale project that we had to put so many hours into and write a report about. We would then do a public presentation to a panel of judges and we had to meet standards to pass this class and graduate. Many students chose projects like learning to play an instrument, or take up a sport, or restore a car but I chose to start a middle school cheer squad.
This was not an easy project because the school did not like the idea of a cheer squad, the principal was worried it would foster an environment of cliquishness. The deal we struck was that I could not cut, anyone who showed was on the squad so I wound up with a team of 30 girls from ages 11-13. The only way I maintained order was with push ups. Lots and lots of push ups.
But the season was successful. The team performed at a school assembly and at a high school JV basketball game. I taught them jumps, cheers and stunts. We even had a little basket in their final routine.
I did try out for my university cheer team at Central Washington University but didn’t make it. A male member of the team later told me that I was too big, they only wanted girls who could partner stunt and at 5’8 and 140 pounds of muscle no guy was going to be able to get me up. So instead I focused on a college track career.
After college I was interested in cheerleading again. The Seattle Seagals squad looked appealing but I was not good enough of a dancer for that squad. I even went to a workshop and when we had to leap across the floor I knew I was out of my element.
I did find a couple local semi-pro teams and cheered for the Everett Vikings and Puget Sound Titans. Cheering for a football team was a whole new realm for me but I really enjoyed it.
Now my personal cheerleading days are over (though I still fantasize about cheering for the Seahawks) and I am focused on coaching.
I have been an assistant coach at Magrath High School for four years and that has been a different experience for me too. High school cheerleaders are rare in Alberta and in conservative Southern Alberta there’s an attitude of mistrust. Because of negative stereotypes of cheerleaders on TV and in movies the high school cheerleaders are met with a bit of hostility. They get teased and cat called, we coaches have had to get the principal to get student spectators to move off the front benches for the cheerleaders.
But the girls stick with it because they love it and the head coach Teejay is amazing at looking out for those girls (and guys).
But now I am starting a new chapter in my coaching career with All Star coaching at Extreme. I can’t wait to see what this season will bring!