“Would your girls want to join cheerleading?”
When a fellow mom asked me that question, I’m pretty sure I just looked back at her with a blank stare for a few moments. Cheerleading for what? I wondered. A school? A team? Or…could it be…just plain ole cheerleading? You know, like cheerleading for the sake of cheerleading. Like, American-style cheerleading.
“They have that here?” I asked.
Apparently, yes. They do. It’s actually called All-Star Cheerleading and it would seem it’s one of the fastest-growing sports in Canada. It’s gaining popularity across the country, and every province except New Brunswick and PEI has its own cheerleading association (Manitoba has two!). Who knew?
Canada’s National Cheer team at the World Cheerleading Championships.
I didn’t know if my own girls would be interested, so I asked them. The answer was, basically, hells to the yes.
So I signed them up for the recreational program at one of the three gyms in Calgary offering cheer, and I could tell, right from the first lesson, that this was going to be a winner. For every second of that first hour-and-a-half of training, my girls were running, jumping, dancing or tumbling. I like this, I thought. It’s athletic. It’s gymnastics and dance all mixed into one, active package. And then…the stunts. Right on the first day, they had them up in the air, and when I saw the ecstatic look on my daughters’ faces, I knew. They didn’t just like cheer, they loved cheer. How can I explain how great this was for them? It’s like going into your first ballet class, strapping on the pointe shoes and mastering a beautiful pas de bourrée, just like that. Except that I know from my own experience, in ballet you spend about ten years pointing and plié-ing before you earn that first pair of pointe slippers and tutu and frankly, I gave up ballet before I was able to get there.
So I loved that their first cheer experience was so exciting, so athletic, so successful. It seemed like a magic combination, and it’s just gotten better from there. Both my girls were so keen on the recreational cheerleading experience that they asked to try out for the competitive team. With white knuckles, I waited to get the results and – whew – both of them got what they so desperately wanted: they made it onto the team! So now the year looms ahead of us, full of twice- (and sometimes thrice-) weekly practices, out-of-town (and even one out-of-province) competitions, fancy uniforms, makeup, hair curlers and ribbons.
My girls are some stoked.
So in a weird twist of fate, I have now become something I didn’t even know existed three months ago (and honestly probably would have laughed at had I known): a cheer mom. And I’ll be there, every step of the way…cheering them on.