Having had my introduction to competitive Cheerleading back in September and since then had a couple of months to get my head around the rules and ways of the sport, I went back to training to find out how the Sunderland Stars were getting on.
Despite now knowing what competitive Cheerleading is about and having seen full routines performed by other squads, I was still unsure about what to expect from such a session only two months into training.
After beginning with a fairly extensive warm-up session involving lots of cartwheels and forward rolls, the group split up into smaller groups of four or five to practise stunts which are common in most competitive Cheerleading routines.
With the groups working closely together the stunts consisted mainly of a series of lifts including ‘Full Extensions’, ‘Basket Tosses’ and ‘Twist-Ups’, wherein one member of the group, known as the ‘flier’, is hoisted into the air by the other three or four before being caught again by the group in a move known as the ‘Cradle’.
The second half of the session centred around pyramid work, in which the entire group performed seemingly complex routines, each culminating in a pyramid with five fliers.
Unlike most University sports Cheerleading does not compete in the British University and College Sports (BUCS) league, instead taking part in competitions organised by various Cheerleading organisations, meaning that competitions do not begin until after the New Year.
President Kale Crane is confident the Stars have a bright future ahead of them, and said: “We are currently progressing as a team, the fastest I’ve ever seen – and at this rate we will hopefully become a strong competitive squad in future competitions.”