SFU Cheerleading team to compete in 2017 World Cheerleading Championships
By Justin Wong
Last April, the SFU Cheerleading team, a co-ed sports club with 19 members, was victorious as they defeated the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria at the Sea to Sky, a top-tiered provincial cheerleading competition.
The victory secured their bid to compete at the 2017 World Cheerleading Championships (WCC) in Florida this month, Jan. 13-15.
The victory was hard-won. Team member Andrea Garcia recalls how the team thought it would be impossible to recover from a disappointing performance on the first day of the two-day Sea to Sky competition.
“We felt dejected after receiving a poor rating in our feedback from the judges,” says Garcia, a third-year health sciences major.
“We didn’t know how to recover, but our coaches really believed in us. That really helped raise our spirits for the rest of the competition.”
The team rallied to put on a clean performance on day two.
“Our athletes train five-and-a-half hours a week,” says Garcia, “with additional time spent at the gym working on strength training and cardio, as well as at open gyms where team members practice additional skills.”
As the only team from B.C. heading to Florida this week they will be competing against the top collegiate teams from around the world.
SFU alumna Krista Gerlich-Fitzgerald, a former SFU cheerleader and the current British Columbia Cheerleading Association president, says she is proud of what her former sports club has accomplished and hopes they run a clean routine at the competition.
“Cheerleaders put countless hours every week into their craft at the gym and practice, while balancing their academics,“ says Gerlich-Fitzgerald, who is currently completing a master’s in public policy.
“Most people don’t recognize cheerleaders as athletes because of various stereotypes in the media, but it takes a lot of athleticism to compete.”
That is about to change. The International Cheer Union has just received provisional recognition from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Gerlich-Fitzgerald has combined her love for cheerleading and her passion for public policy as she works to have cheerleading recognized as a sport in B.C.
“When a governing body like the IOC recognizes cheerleading as a sport, it will play a major role in how it is publicly perceived and will inevitably help cheerleading grow as a sport globally,” she says.
“My hope is that by the end of the year cheerleading will get the recognition it deserves in B.C., and that SFU's team representing B.C. on the global scene will greatly assist in raising the profile of the sport here.”