Two and a half minutes is all it took for Dalhousie Cheer Society to seal their undefeated season and a first-place finish at the CheerExpo Nationals.
Competing against other universities and teams across North America on March 29 and 30, the Dalhousie Cheer Society’s members had just that small window of time to show off all their effort this year — dancing, tumbling and lifting their way to a perfectly timed routine.
“It’s been a lot of hard work,” says Tessa Barmarija, team captain. “There are times when you ask yourself, ‘Is this really worth it?’ We’re only going out there for two and a half minutes?’ But that’s why people fall in love with the sport: for those two and a half minutes, you feel like a rock star.”
Last year after placing second to St. FX by a fraction of a point, this first-place victory has been a serious goal for the team.
“A lot of people who have been on the team for so long know it’s been so close but just out of reach,” says Bermarija, “It’s kind of a relief to finally win.”
Training for the added edge
With victory made by only fractions of points, practice has been key to the team’s success.
On top of training twice a week, this year the society team has also done weekly military-style conditioning.
“I have girls doing tumbles and running across the floor, then hosting another girl up, all while never looking tired on the floor,” says coach Jessie Ali. “We want people to realize the athleticism of the sport. People don’t realize how strong these athletes are and need to be.”
When not training for competitions, Dalhousie Cheer Society attends basketball, football and rugby games to do sideline performances to raise school spirit.
“We’re different from other club cheerleading in the province,” says Ali. “Our purpose is to be competitive, but we also have made an effort to be integrated into the sports, it adds something to it.”
Making an impact on campus
As a relatively new society, Dalhousie Cheer hasn’t always found it easy to integrate into the campus community.
This year, the effort paid off.
The Dalhousie Cheer Society won Most Impactful Competitive Sports Society at the Dalhousie Impact Awards.
“It’s nice to be recognized for what we do,” says Bermarija. “It’s kind of thankless sometimes when you’re there cheering on the sidelines and people don’t really know about what we do at competitions. We’d often be hosting bake sales or other fundraisers for the team and we’d get the same response: ‘Dal has cheerleaders?’”
Taking part in the Society Carnival and hosting an Orientation Week Stunt School, Dalhousie Cheer Society is trying to branch out to the school community.
“It brings more attention to what we’re doing,” says Courtney Taylor, the newly elected assistant captain for the society. “We’re around the school a lot and it’s so nice to get recognized for being a good team.”
Part of something bigger
Dalhousie Cheer society has also represented Dalhousie at community events like Relay for Life, Light the Night and other fundraisers.
“It’s a wonderful way to become a part of our school community,” says Ali.” “We’re really trying to help people see that Dal Cheer is a part of something bigger.”
“It makes me enjoying being a student here even more,” adds Taylor, “My classes are even more enjoyable when I’m passionate about my school and really proud to be at Dal.”
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