Despite multiple injuries and last minute routine changes, the University of Saskatchewan Cheerleading Team is wrapping up their 2015–16 season with perseverance, stamina and plenty of success.
The team participated in their last competition of the season, the Cold Snap Cheerleading Classic, on Jan. 22 in Edmonton, Alta., where they placed third overall in their division.
Shanda Leftley, one of the U of S Cheerleading Team’s three coaches, notes that the competition was a challenging one.
“We were actually in a division where we were up against all-star teams that were going for Worlds bids, so it was really competitive in that aspect. So knowing that we were up against teams that were striving to go to Worlds, you know that they’re going to be pushed extra hard,” Leftley said, adding that the team’s two final runs of the competition were some of their best.
The competition ended on a high note however, when they found out that one of their team members, Ella McEwen, made Team Canada Co-ed Premier and will be representing Canada at the World Cheerleading Championships in April 2016.
For Leftley, and the team as a whole, this is an especially exciting moment.
“There’s nobody else from our city who made the team,” Leftley said. “We’ve had a couple of alumni that have been on Team Canada in the past who have previously been on the U of S [team], but we’ve never had a current team member, so it’s really exciting for our team.”
McEwen, a third-year kinesiology major, is also looking forward to the opportunity.
“I am very excited to get to work with the best athletes in Canada and to learn from the best coaches. I can’t wait to experience Worlds with such an undoubtedly amazing team,” McEwen said in an email to the Sheaf. “The most challenging aspect of representing Canada will be feeling the pressure of knowing everyone is watching and relying on me, and that every move I make counts.”
McEwen had to apply to be on Team Canada via a video submission, where she showcased a variety of different skills. For the next few months, she will have to continue practicing, which includes attending training camps in Toronto.
“She’ll have to personally keep working on her tumbling; some of the skills like basket tosses — where four people throw her up in the air and she does a skill — she can work that locally with our team because it doesn’t depend on a specific person,” Leftley said.
The Cheer Team also placed third at the annual National Competition in Brampton, Ont. in December 2015, while defending their championship title. Although not the result they had hoped for, the team was able to gain some experience working under strain, which made them stronger as a whole.
“We did have quite a few injuries happen throughout the year, which made us have to change our routine or change skills, in some cases,” Leftley said. “Like before we showcased at BRIT Cheerleading Competition this year, we actually had an injury that caused us to change our whole routine the night before. So we’ve had some situations like that, but I think those challenges show that our team is really strong and willing to work together in what they’re there to do.”
For Leftley, one of the biggest successes from this season is the family atmosphere of the team and their ability to work together.
“They’re all best friends and they want to spend time together, not just at cheerleading practice, but afterwards too, on their own. So that’s a really nice feeling. I think that’s one of the best things about the team, that we’re such a good family. I think that’s one of the takeaways for me from this season — that the athletes all really enjoy each other and they value what they are doing.”
Naomi Zurevinski / Editor-in-Chief
Photos: Peter Acton / Supplied