Southern Shore cheer: Mobile team tumbles to the top

Cheerleaders at a small school on the Avalon Peninsula's Southern Shore have tumbled their way to the top, winning a national title and a fourth-place finish at a world event.

Small school takes national title, and wows everyone at world competition

The Mobile Monarchs compete in Orlando 2:33

Cheerleaders at a small school on the Southern Shore of the Avalon Peninsula have tumbled their way to the top, winning a national title and a fourth-pace finish at a world event.

The team from Mobile competed this February at the World School Cheerleading Championships in Florida.

So, how did Mobile Central High School — with only 200 students — produce one of the best cheerleading teams in the country?

I'm going to leave this team next year, but it will never leave me.- Rachel Tobin

"Number one, the school is from grades 7-12 so you get kids on the team for up to six years at a time," said head coach Aprille Whelan.

"And they're all just super dedicated."

The Mobile Monarchs practice twice a week in their high school gym. Last year they won a national title, and placed fourth in a world championship. (Amy Joy/CBC)

Whelan was a Grade 12 student and a member of the basketball team when she started coaching the Mobile Monarchs "for fun."

One thing led to another, and she eventually found herself in charge of the team.

"We just started getting in touch with people around here who did cheerleading, and we just learned from the bottom and started attending a lot of clinics," said Whelan.

"We took advantage of whatever we could, and it was just a very slow but steady process."

Within a year, the team that had only ever performed for fun in front of the school before was ready to compete.

In 2013 the Mobile Monarchs won its first title at a provincial high school championship.

'It's all about trust'

"The majority of the routine is stunting. which is physically lifting bodies in the air," said Whelan.

"We have girls standing on one leg in the air, and aside from standing on one leg they're pulling air positions, which means they're putting their other leg above their head or holding it behind their back."

The bases and back spots lift and throw the flyers into the air, and help keep them up there during a stunt. 

The Mobile Monarchs do a lot of stunting, which requires trust, according to the girls on the team. (Aprille Whelan)

"I guess it's a little bit scary but it's really fun at the same time" said Caroline Murphy, who's a Grade 11 student and a flyer on the team. "It's all about trust."

It's a little bit scary, but it's really fun. It's all about trust.- Caroline Murphy

"Flying is really fun. You get all the cool pictures," said Bridget Keating, who used to be a flyer but is now a base. 

The girls spend about four hours a week practising — and sometimes more.

Whelan, now a teacher in Avondale, drives across the Witless Bay Line twice weekly to work with the team.

Undefeated at the provincial level, the Monarchs won a national title in 2015 and more recently went to a world cheerleading competition at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

'We came out of nowhere'

"Everyone was doing things like we haven't even seen before, especially where people were there from all over the world," said cheerleader Rachel Tobin.

"You have to work as hard as you can, to get to the place where you can get on the mat and get your nerves out … and it's just mind over matter. It's what you love to do."

The team at the World School Cheerleading Championships in Florida. (Aprille Whelan)

Whelan said the calibre of the competition in Florida "was just crazy," but hopes it will serve to inspire the Monarchs.

"Something you'd never see here or in other parts of Canada, something to aspire to. It's good for the girls to see that type of cheerleading."

They need a coach to be in their corner, and once they see what I do, they're willing to give that back.- Aprille Whelan

The Monarchs didn't win the world title, but they placed fourth out of dozens of teams.

Among all Canadian teams, the Monarchs got the highest score.

"We just kind of came came out of nowhere … it's insane and we're so lucky to get an experience like that," said Keating.

The girls said everyone who tries out for the team is given a spot on the Monarchs and the six years spent at the school give them all a chance to get good, if they work hard.

"Dedication is what they need," said Whelan. "They need a coach to be in their corner, and once they see what I do, they're willing to give that back."

Meanwhile, Tobin said the payoff of all that hard work is big and she can't imagine life after the team.

"Everything that I do, I attribute to cheerleading because it is such a big part of my life, and it has changed me forever," she said.

"I'm going to leave this team next year, but it will never leave me."

With files from Amy Joy