Karma Spriggs, a 12-year-old cheerleader with the newly-established Cobra All-Stars team in Moose Jaw, just started cheerleading, but she is already hooked.
“It’s all about team work and it’s great exercise and everybody works together. It’s really fun,” she said.
Spriggs’s teammate, Hayley Shirkey, also 12, said her favourite part of competing at URCC is performing in front of an audience.
“Just showing everyone what you can do because I think it’s cool,” said Shirkey. Another teammate, 10-year-old Hannah Schultz, also excitedly added, “You get to win trophies!”
Cheerleading teams are consistently working hard to win competitions and thrill crowds with new tricks. This year, Freedom All-Star Cheerleading in Saskatoon is a co-ed team competing a stunt never-before-seen in North American competition.
“Basically we hold a (cheerleader) upside-down and then (another one) gets thrown in the air and lands on (the upside-down cheerleader’s) feet," said third-year team member Graham Kolojay. "We're pushing some rules to the limit."
Mishayla Potts, president of the Saskatchewan Cheerleading Association, has watched cheerleading increase its skill-set and popularity all over the province.
“Cheerleading has grown from grassroots school programs to multi-team all-star programs with their own gyms and has been a popular feature for our local CFL football team,” said Potts.
Cheerleading is not only gaining more athletes, it is also well on its way to becoming a sport in Saskatchewan with Sask Sport.
“(In 2009), we were accepted as an emerging sport with two goals to accomplish to bump us up to full member status. The first goal is to help develop a national sport governing body and the second was to implement a coaches' certification program,” said Potts. So far, the second goal has been accomplished and there is currently work on a national organization known as Cheer Canada.
But some athletes said cheerleading doesn’t need the official status for them to consider it a sport.
“It’s one of the most physical sports I’ve ever played or done,” said Kolojay. “When you're talking about throwing a girl in the air on your own and holding her up with one arm, how is that not a challenge? It's a very difficult sport.”
Cheerleading competitions will continue across Saskatchewan until the provincial championships on March 24 and 25.