Shirley-Lynn Currie bristles anytime someone says cheerleading isn’t a sport.
The 13-year-old has been competing at it for three years and said the physical and mental efforts needed to succeed make it as tough a challenge as any sport out there.
“It’s catching people instead of a ball. So to me it’s a sport,” said the youngster, who competes for the Sir Winston Churchill Trojans team.
Kinsey Tanzola couldn’t agree more.
She loves the fun and competitive aspect of cheerleading.
“You can be athletic in a fun way,” said the 11-year-old, who competes for the Dynamite Cheer All Stars in Thunder Bay.
“But most people think it’s just you saying stuff. But it’s about competition.”
Shirley-Lynn and Kinsey joined hundreds of like-minded athletes Sunday at Fort William Gardens, where they took part in the annual Northern Ontario Cheerleading Championship.
Twenty teams took part in the event, including a newly formed squad from Red Lake.
Chelsea Procyk said there’s not much to do in her remote hometown, so she and some friends decided to form the Northern Cheer Exchange.
They made their competitive debut at the Gardens, finishing third.
“We just love it,” she said. “We don’t have very much to do in our town, so it’s nice to have something fun and competitive.
Teammate Alyssia Hawryluk said it’s all about having fun and fitting in.
“We just wanted to be part of what city girls do, I guess.
Amanada Maronese heads the Ontario Cheerleading Federation and said the event is all about competition and showcasing all the skills the teams have been working on all season long.
It’s not easy sport to master, she added.
“It takes a lot of practice, a lot of hours in the gym learning how to dance, how to tumble, how to stunt properly and safely. Making sure the girls are nice and strong is really helpful.”
A good routine can be anything, really, she added.
“It all depends. It depends on their stunting. It depends on the type of jumps, their tumbling and dance and how creative they can be and just how much fun they have performing.”
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