Cheering Their Way to the Top

Tough, passionate and creative – these cheerleaders take their craft seriously and work hard to be the best.

Basketballer, tennis player, footballer, boxer, soccer player, cricketer: one look at this list and it’s easy to see what they each have in common. In the company of greatness, but not always recognised as such, there’s one type of athlete decidedly missing from the fold.

We’re talking about those players who log hours in the gym; watch replays in slo-mo to perfect technique; push through injuries; and sweat. No, we’re not talking about chasing a ball – this is the life of a professional cheerleader.

Originally a boys only club, cheerleading’s roots began stateside in the 1880s with an all-male pep team. Women were welcomed some 40 years later, and since, the vernacular has become that of a leggy, mean girl stereotype. JLD. Entertainment are here to change that.

Busting the ‘dumb blonde’ myth, the professional cheer squad are among the best in the country. A mix of dancers, gymnasts and stunt performers, they’re far from being just the girlfriends of jocks. Hopefuls don’t need to be size 0 nor have thousands of friends on Facebook to join the team; just dedication, stamina and skill.

cheerleader
cheerleader

With goals set beyond that of becoming a prom queen, squad members train just as hard as the teams they cheer for. Beautiful? Yes. Sidekicks? Absolutely not. Storming the field at half time each game, these girls are dancing, twisting and tumbling their way to world domination.

Thanks to Serena Williams’ dancing in a Beyoncé music video, Troy Bolton’s seamless transition from jock to drama, and the rise of models as fitness queens, cheerleaders’ ascent to professional sport status is within sight. The lines are blurring between athlete and entertainer and the reality is setting in: women are multi-faceted, and we can kick ass at whatever we decide to do.

But, the idea of duality is one society still struggles with; that women can be both strong and beautiful. Serious and feminine. Cheerleader in the morning, student, doctor or mother in the evening. Abandon limiting notions and anything is possible.

Move over Charlie’s Angels, the girls are knocking down the haters with a swift high kick and backflip - always sticking the landing. They’re choice of weapon? Pom-poms and a killer smile.

cheerleader
Aonghus Stevens