Three teams from the Southern Shore rocked the Provincial cheerleading finals held in Conception Bay South last week, with all three squads coming home with banners and the senior team from Mobile Central High School earning the right to represent Newfoundland at the World championships in Florida next year.
For those following their progress, the Southern Shore teams have come a long way in a short time.
“Mobile High School started its competitive cheerleading program 10 years ago, in 2008,” noted Geri-Lynn Devereaux, the school’s guidance counsellor. “At that time they wore homemade T-shirts and bows for their first provincial championship.”
The team placed last in their division that first year.
“The team has come a long way since then, now sporting beautiful uniforms and bows and excelling in each division they enter, year after year, locally, nationally, and internationally,” said Devereaux. “This year the school had two different teams - junior and senior - and each team was made up of 18 athletes. Each team practiced four hours a week from September to April and three students actually participated on both teams, which meant they cheered for eight hours per week.”
The word “cheer,” meanwhile, doesn’t adequately describe the athleticism of what the cheerleaders do. The routines involve tremendous conditioning, co-ordination and strength, as the athletes power their way through fast-paced tumbles, complex dances and, what certainly look dangerous to the untrained high, the stacking of human pyramids with girls being thrown high into the air to be caught by their teammates.
Devereaux said the school’s junior team, coached by Sarah Emberley, Melissa Roche and Dana Mullowney, placed 2nd at the provincials, a huge improvement from last year.
“The senior team continued to impress and had another clean sweep,” she said. “They placed 1st in their division - senior high Level 2. They were named Grand Champs for the high school division, meaning they had the highest score of all senior high teams, of all levels. They were also awarded the coveted Max Out award.”
That award is given to the team that most maxes out its level by performing the most difficult skills for the level they compete in. And because the Mobile senior high team had the highest score of the competition, they were also awarded a partial paid bid to attend the high school cheerleading world championships in Orlando, Florida next February. Mobile attended the World championships in both 2016 and 2017. The senior team is coached by Jane Reddick, Aprille Whelan, Sarah Emberley and Erin O’Rielly.
Importantly for Mobile’s cheerleading program, its feeder school, St. Bernard’s Elementary in Witless Bay, has also taken up the cheerleading baton.
“St. Bernard’s Elementary is in its 4th year of cheerleading and also attended the provincial championships last weekend,” said Devereaux. “They continue to be the only elementary team in the province, which means they automatically win their division. However, they were also named Grand Champs for the elementary/junior high division, which meant they had the highest score out of all junior high teams of all levels.”
Deveraux said the 18 members of the elementary school squad, who are drawn from children in Grades 4 to 6, practice once a week for two hours. The team is coached by Kathleen Houlihan and Melissa Roche.