Each year, the University of Saskatchewan cheerleading team attends sporting events as well as their own competitions, which can require a lot of off-season preparation.
After initial tryouts in the spring, the team’s roster was eventually finalized, and they had training camps throughout the summer — one weekend per month. Now that they are into fall training, they practice two times a week at the Prairie Fire Cheerleading gym, working through all of the elements of their routine.
Lekeisha Halkett, first-year undeclared student, is one of 21 athletes on this year’s cheerleading team, which is composed mostly of rookies, after a second round of tryouts at the beginning of the school year. Halkett explains the structure of their practice schedule.
“At the beginning of practice, we start by warming up with stretches and some light conditioning. Then, we spend most of our practices working on our stunts. We work in our co-ed stunt groups and our all-girl stunt groups, then work on basket tosses and usually finish with pyramids. We work on jumps, too, but those have kind of been put on the backburner while we try to improve our stunting skills,” Halkett said.
In addition to their practices at the Prairie Fire Cheerleading gym, the team also visits a CrossFit gym once a week to work on strength training as a group. Halkett states that they will be travelling to Toronto at the end of November to compete in nationals, their biggest competition of the year, which they attend as a level 6 co-ed team. They may also attend other competitions in the new year, but the team has not confirmed their competition schedule that far ahead yet.
Halkett discusses the various team-bonding and fundraising activities that the team partakes in together.
“In the summer, we had a river float and did things like have barbecues together and go bowling,” Halkett said.
Halkett further explains that the U of S cheerleading team also fills the role of the Blue Crew at Saskatoon Blades games.
“We go and cheer for the team and do giveaways. When we do this, we get sponsorship from the team, and we’re getting Under Armour sports bras with the Saskatoon Blades logo on them. We do other events at the SaskTel Centre, too, like some of the girls who are legal age run the bar at [Saskatchewan Rush Lacrosse] games and at concerts sometimes, too,” Halkett said.
Anyone who wants to catch the U of S cheerleading team in action can watch for their public show, which Halkett explains takes place before the team heads to their most important competition.
“Before we go to nationals, we have a showcase at Prairie Fire, and anyone can come and watch us perform our routine.”
Photos: Katherine Fedoroff