One of the greatest sporting events of my life!
About a month ago, I joined the Vanier Cheetahs cheerleading team for their final competition of the season at Regionals. There were seven teams at the event, all of them being colleges from Montreal and the Laurentians. Going into the event, I had no idea what to expect, as cheerleading is a whole other world compared to how it is illustrated in movies; and boy did these athletes impress.
Cheerleading is a complex sport, much harder than it looks. Every time these athletes step onto that mat, they are basically putting their lives in danger, as extremely serious injuries can occur in this sport. After interviewing one of the members of the team, flyer Sarah Jane Byrne-Bertrand, I came to the realization of how dangerous this sport can actually be. She has had back injuries, displaced ribs, shoulder injuries, ankle sprains, knee injuries and worst of all, several concussions. “One time, my concussion was so bad, I couldn’t even look at the snow because I would get headaches, and due to this, I had to cancel a whole semester.” Just imagine going through pain of this degree… and some still have the nerve to state that cheerleading is not a sport. To compare it to any other sport, cheerleading has just as much or even more injuries than a sport like football and rugby, as cheerleading is, a contact sport.
Now some of you might be wondering why I was at this competition? I was there to film the behind the scenes, to show the world of organized sports that cheerleading is a sport like any other. There are so many aspects that makes cheerleading the unique sport it is. In a small amount of two minutes and thirty seconds, there are the jumps, the stunts, the dances, the pyramids, the concentration, the synchronization, the showmanship and what I found most crucial of all, the team spirit. Without sportsmanship and love for your teammates, a routine will never work, and this is why I really got into this event. The Vanier cheerleaders were so respectful towards one another, so encouraging; you could really see that this was more than just some school team; these students had become one big family. There positivity was contagious, as it just put a huge smile on my face to see how close these athletes were. And did it pay off! The Cheetahs absolutely killed it, as they hit zero deductions, which means that they had a perfect routine, making zero mistakes. The atmosphere was great, everyone was screaming, the coaches, the injured cheetahs, the other teams, the fans; it was all so great to witness as it even brought goosebumps to my skin.
At the end of the day, to see these cheetahs so proud and happy of their final routine of the season, it was really a true joy to see. In my experience of playing soccer for 15 years, it is almost culture shocking to spend time with athletes of another sport, to see how they prepare mentally for their big event, to see how they perform, the encouragement, the warm-up and most important of all, the event itself. In my eyes, you cannot judge and discriminate another sport until you actually participate and spend some quality time watching it up close and personal, because you have no idea how much time, effort and hard perseverant work goes into any sport.
Let this be a life lesson to all, you must keep an open mind about anything that you are not familiar with, as you truly don’t know how much you could enjoy something you thought you wouldn’t. It is just like when you used to tell your mom you didn’t like broccoli without even trying it!
Written By: Brandon Brini