If there's one thing the Netflix hit Cheer taught us, it's that cheerleaders are in an athletic league of their own.
Their strength, flexibility and dedication was on show recently, with Shoalhaven Cheer Academy (SCA) teams cleaning up at the DCE State Showdown in Sydney on Saturday, November 14 and the Cheerbrandz Cheerleading National Championships at Olympic Park on Sunday, November 15.
The Junior level 1 team also won a place at the Global Cheerleading games to be held at the Cook Islands next year and will have the opportunity to represent the Shoalhaven on an international level.
SCA has teams for all age groups, ranging from three years to 18 plus and is the only cheer academy covering the Shoalhaven and South Coast region.
Many of the athletes are training up to five hours a week per team, with some competing across a number of teams.
Most training sessions will see them working on tumbling, flying, flexibility, strength and team training. Their training continues even at home.
Stephanie Young's child is part of SCA and said many valuable lessons are learned.
"The kids all put in a huge effort and are all really determined to achieve great results," she said.
"Cheerleading definitely teaches them all to be dedicated and committed in their practice so that they perform well as a team."
Nine-year-old Rylee Martin competes in Junior Level 1 team Galaxy and in a Junior level 2 stunt team.
She said the friendships, new skills and the adrenaline rush from competitions keep her hooked.
"I love cheerleading because it's so much fun and I have learnt so many amazing skills like back hand springs and stunting and my favourite thing is the number of friends and I really love my coaches," she said.
"It can be hard work to try and be the best you can be, but competitions are really exciting. I chose cheerleading because I wanted to learn all the different types of skills and have fun performing."
"I think one of the most amazing things this year has been the demonstration of resilience and determination by the athletes who have faced some big challenges in the sport this year and yet still managed to achieve amazing results at an elite level."Stephanie Young
It's been a tough year for many sporting organisations, and SCA is no different.
The athletes had a large period of time where they couldn't train face to face, making it very hard to learn routines and perform group stunts.
The future of the gym was also in question through the impact of the pandemic, but came under the new ownership of a local family with Eliza Bartlett and her partner Sean taking over.
Ms Young said the new owners have rallied around the athletes and made sure they could maintain practice, first virtually, before being able to re-enter the gym.
"It has honestly meant a lot to the kids to be able to get back in the gym safely with the support of their coaches and to be able to reach their goals," she said.
"I think one of the most amazing things this year has been the demonstration of resilience and determination by the athletes who have faced some big challenges in the sport this year and yet still managed to achieve amazing results at an elite level."
Anyone looking to try out the sport can head along to placements days on December 19 and 20. Book via shoalhavencheeracademy.com/.
An SCA cheer movie highlighting everyone's achievements this year will be showing over three sessions on Saturday, November 21 at the Roxy cinema with a few tickets still available.
For more information head to shoalhavencheeracademy.com
Results from the weekend
- 1st place in Junior level 1
- 1st place open level 2
- 1st place junior stunt team
- 1st place senior stunt team
- 2nd place senior level 2
- 2nd place youth novice
- 2nd place senior stunt team and grand champions for junior level 1.
Results from the Sunday competition
- Junior level 1 team Galaxy took 2nd in Australia.
- All teams finished in the top 5