Here’s something to cheer about: Electric Allstars is a cheerleading gym in St. John’s that’s only been open for a year, but already two of their teams have won paid bids to attend The Summit — known as ‘the Olympics of cheerleading’ — in Orlando, Fla., in May.
“This is a major milestone for Newfoundland cheerleading,” said Newfoundland and Labrador Cheerleading Athletics president Tiffany Henderson.
Only three teams from the province have ever won bids to attend the elite competition — this brings the number up to five. This also marks the first time that paid bids have been offered to a small number of Canadian teams.
“It kind of speaks to the growth of the sport for us in Canada. We’ve always been, I guess, a little bit behind the United States who kind of lead the way in the industry. So, for us it feels like we’re playing a little bit of catch-up, but it just feels really good to have those same opportunities,” said Henderson.
She said it’s “incredible” that two Electric Allstars teams, Code Blue and Blackout, earned paid bids.
Code Blue coach Kristina Ennis said the win is significant.
“It’s like the Olympics of cheerleading to be able to go to The Summit or Worlds. There’s no higher level of competition that you can attend at the moment.”
While The Summit is the highest level of competition for younger, lower-level athletes, Worlds is the equivalent for older, higher-level athletes. Both competitions are organized by the U.S. All Star Federation, the governing body for all-star cheerleading in the United States.
The achievement includes accommodations at the Disney World resort, plus registration for the event, which takes place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World.
Fourteen-year-old athlete Abigayle Power described the moment when her team found out they won.
“When we saw our name go up on the screen, we all started screaming, and hugging each other and crying,” she said.
The cheerleaders train about nine hours per week.
Ennis said the girls have overcome injuries, mental blocks and balancing multiple commitments — such as school and other activities — in order to reach this calibre of performance.
“I could cry again right now. I’ve been crying all week,” Ennis laughed.
The 29-year-old has been cheerleading since 2007, when she attended Bishops College.
She said this bid is particularly exciting for her and the other Code Blue coaches because the three of them competed at Worlds together in 2014.
“And now we get to go back to The Summit together with kids that we coach, so that’s really special.”
She said cheerleading has changed a lot since she was in high school, when it was primarily school-based teams using pompoms, and literally cheering.
What these girls do doesn’t involve pompoms or cheering — it’s more a combination of gymnastics and stunts, such as throwing people into the air.
“What the typical person would think of when they think of a cheerleader — cheering on other sports — we don’t do any of that. All-star cheerleading is very skills-based, very athletic.”