P.E.I. cheerleading squads gear up for national competition
Number of Island squads has nearly doubled in last five years
The stands were full at UPEI's Chi-Wan Young Sports Centre on Sunday as cheerleading squads from across the Island took to the blue mat to showcase their skills.
Nine teams, with athletes ranging from six to 25, performed routines they've been preparing for months for a crowd of family and community members.
The event was hosted by UPEI's cheerleading squad in an effort to raise awareness about the sport on the Island.
Adora Bustard, organizer and coach for UPEI's squad, said cheerleading is still relatively new to the Island, but has been growing quickly.
"Five years ago there was really only one cheerleading gym on P.E.I," Bustard said. "Every year there are more and more teams popping up.
"This is the first year that there's ever been nine, so I'm just hoping there will be more and more every year."
'The more the sport will grow'
The squads, representing UPEI, Holland College, Grace Christian School and two Island cheerleading gyms, are gearing up for national cheerleading championship in Halifax at the end of the month.
Andrea Berube, head coach of Passion Elite Cheer and Holland College, has been involved with cheerleading on P.E.I. for more than decade and started the province's first all-star club.
"The sport has really started to grow on P.E.I. after many, many years," Berube said.
She said she's glad her teams had the chance to perform their routines for friends and family on the Island — something squads rarely have the chance to do.
Goal to host regional competitions on P.E.I.
Bustard said there aren't any cheerleading competitions held on the Island, which is something she's hoping to change. Without local competitions and events, it's difficult to establish a following and get more people involved in the sport, she said.
"I obviously want to grow the sport of cheerleading here in P.E.I," Bustard said. "Because there's not any cheerleading events a lot of parents who pay to have their kids in cheerleading never get to see them perform."
She said she'd like to start hosting competitions here and bring athletes from other provinces to the Island to compete and a showcase is her first step toward making that happen.
"It's just a matter of growing and planning. This is kind of like a tester event for me to see how it's really going to go, but that's the goal, to eventually host a competition here."
Bustard said all nine teams at the showcase will be competing in the national championships later this month. She said UPEI's team came second in its division last year and has its sights set on gold this year.