Cheer City Frost Festival- Post competition update

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and New Year and enjoyed the much needed break from studding or working. I know I haven’t posted for a number of weeks now, since I finished Uni for christmas I’ve been so busy and a few personal things came up. Unfortunately this meant I had to put blogging to one side for a few weeks and focus on other things, from now on I will try to post as regularly as possible.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I went to watch my old cheerleading team compete at Cheer City’s Frost Festival on the 3rd December. When I arrived at the competition, the lady working on the door looked at me and said “athlete?” and I disappointedly replied “No, spectator.” This was the first competition in 9 years that I had been to as a spectator as opposed to an athlete, it was a very weird feeling to be getting up at 6am to put on my TCA t-shirt rather than full uniform and hair & makeup. Although I would’ve loved to be competing alongside them, I still had an amazing day helping out with hair and make-up, watching all the routines and cheering them on.

I honestly couldn’t be any prouder to say that TCA achieved some amazing results and took over the award ceremony, taking home a number of trophies and banners to hang in their gym to show everyone how talented they are.

Places for routines were as follows:

  • 3rd Place for Twinkles (Mini’s)
  • 1st Place for Sparklers (Youth)
  • 1st Place for Starz (Junior)
  • Joint 1st place for Galaxy (Junior level 2)
  • 1st place for Diamond Elite (Senior Stunt, Level 3)
  • 2nd Place for Nikola in her solo tumble routine

Fantastic Job, well done to everyone who competed and I can’t wait to watch you all at your next competition.

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The last training session before comp 
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Senior Stunt 

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Is Cheer a sport?

This has been a topic of conversation for as many years as I’ve been cheerleading and more. Of course my opinion on the matter as cheerleader is, yes cheerleading should be considered a sport, I work as hard as any other athlete…so why shouldn’t it be?

Many people have preconceptions as to what cheerleading is and think that we just dance around in short skirts waving pom-poms about and shouting cheesy chants…what we actually do is more different to this than most people can imagine. Most times that I take people to watch a cheerleading session, display or competition, they are amazed by what they see and the skill level. Very often they will actually apologise to me for saying that cheer isn’t a sport and teasing me about it.

Yes, of course cheerleading has changed over the years and it is very different to what it used to be. Many years ago, when cheerleading first started, it was primarily done in the US and did involve quite a lot chanting and to put it plainly…waving pom-poms about. They did some stunting but nothing like what we do today. This is often what people think about when they hear ‘cheerleading.’

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Varsity 1971 Cheerleaders

Lets take a look at what cheerleading is today and what makes a sport…

A sport, as defined by the Council of Europe charter on sport: “means all forms of physical activity, which through casual or organised participation, aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental well being, forming social relationships or obtaining results in competition at all levels.” Cheerleading fits this definition and includes all of the things listed…so by this definition, cheerleading is a sport.

The Office for Civil Rights says that for something to be considered a sport it must:

  1. Be a physical activity which involves propelling a mass through space or overcoming the resistance of a mass.
  2. Be contesting or competing against/with an opponent is required
  3. Be governed by rules that define the time, space and purpose of the contest and the conditions under which a winner is declared.
  4. The primary purpose of the competition is a comparison of relative skills of participants.
  5. Acknowledge that the primary purpose is competition versus other teams or individuals within a competition structure that is comparable to other athletic activities

In terms of cheerleading, it perfectly covers numbers 1-4. Stunting involves propelling a mass through space and overcoming the resistance of a mass. Cheerleaders compete against each other at organised and official competitions. The sport is governed by a set of rules which defines teams or individual placements and declares a winner. Finally, competitions compare cheerleaders skill sets to decide on where they place within the competition.

The issue we have is number 5, cheerleading’s primary purpose is not just for competition, although this is becoming the more popular form of cheerleading…high school and college teams still exist to support other teams such as football, most of these teams do compete alongside appearing on the sideline of other sports but this does mean we cannot say its primary purpose is for competition. Therefore this means, under this specific definition, as long as side-line cheerleading and competitive cheerleading are labelled under the same name…then cheerleading cannot officially be a sport.

However, contrary to this cheerleading has been given preliminary olympic status which means that by 2018, with enough funding, cheerleading could be an official olympic sport.

Below is Top Guns latest show case, this is one of my favourite teams and multiple time world champions. Check out the video and decide for yourself if you think cheerleading should be a sport…

 

How has the way we listen to music changed?

I have had a love of music since a very young age. When I was 7-years-old my mum brought me my first CD, this was Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller.’ Since then I have loved Michael Jackson as an artistic and music itself. Over the years, my music taste has developed and enjoy listening to a wide rang of artists.

One change i’ve noticed in how we purchase and listen to music is that previously we would have a physical copy of the album or single, where as now most music is listened to digitally. When I was younger I would buy CD’s with my pocket money or perhaps be given them as a gift and this was so exciting as a child, to physically have something to show off.

When I reached about the age of 14, I was very lucky to receive Apples latest iPod for christmas, this meant I now brought most of my music on iTunes and didn’t see the point in buying CD’s anymore, when I could carry all the music I wanted to listen to on one device and listen to it whenever I wanted to.

What I did not consider at the time that I stopped buying CD’s and began downloading music, was the massive difference in sound quality. Although CD’s are less portable and convenient, they sound much better than what you can buy on iTunes or listen to online.

I now use Apple music to listen to the majority of my music because its available on both my phone and computer which means I can listen to it pretty much anywhere and have access to thousands of songs without have to download each individual song and with a student membership, for someone who listens to music a lot, its very cost effective.

Alongside using Apple Music, I have a record player and love to listen to albums and singles on it because it sounds so much better than digital music. Another thing that I like about buying and collecting vinyls, is that means you have something physical to keep and show people, and I guess it reminds me of being younger and buying CD’s to show my friends.

I buy both new and older vinyls, for example I have a collection of Queen and Michael Jackson vinyls and although I highly doubt that i’ll ever sell them, I know that its likely that in a number of years these will be worth quite a lot. While I have these I also have the latest Liam Gallagher album and a special edition single of ‘Wall of Glass’, which is also second edition. As well as these I have a collection of many other vinyls.

I began buying vinyls a few years ago as my media teacher was a collector of vinyls and I thought that I’d give it a try. This was just before vinyls came back into ‘fashion,’ and a year or two after I purchased my record player, prices of vinyls soared because more people were buying them and those that sold vinyls saw this as a great opportunity to make more money.

Although I now listen to most of my music using either streaming sites or vinyls, I will on occasion buy a CD. I usually buy CD’s of artists a follow closely and already have their previous albums on CD. I think it would be a shame for CD’s to become a thing of past- much like vinyls were before they recently became popular again.

I think that many people my age will have experienced the same shift in the way that they’ve listened to music has changed since they were younger and although listening to music on our phones and other devices is convenient in the busy world we live in…I think it would be great if people continued to listen to vinyls and CD’s to keep them on the market and they also sound better.

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Cheer City- Frost Festival

On the 3rd December I will be going to watch my old cheerleading team compete at Cheer City’s Frost Festival Competition, I am really excited to support the girls and watch them compete but it is going to be the weirdest feeling to not be competing on the floor alongside them. This will be the first time in 9 years that I will have been to a competition and not competed myself.

I have instead said to my coach that if she would like any help sorting out some of the younger girls and keeping an eye on them, then I would be more than happy to do so. I have always done this when I’ve been at competitions anyway, as its what you do being an older member in the squad…it’s your job to make sure that the younger members of the academy are okay and doing what they should be when your coach isn’t around.

This will likely be a day of helping the girls get ready and doing their hair and makeup, running through routines, making sure everyones in the right place at the right time and screaming counts from the sideline while the girls are performing to help them keep in time.

My Coach told me that, similar to what my current squad are doing, this is only a small competition just to see how the routine is marked and how they can improve it before competing at larger competitions like internationals.

I’m very excited to watch my old team compete and see how they’ve changed and improved since I left for university. It’ll also be great to see everyone again and in many ways although i’d love to be on the floor with them, it will be nice to attend a competition without the pressure of competing myself- although i’m sure that i’ll be equally as nervous for them.

Wishing my TCA girls lots of luck in their upcoming competition!

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My new cheerleading team

Although I have titled this post, ‘my new cheerleading team,’ I guess that it isn’t really my ‘new’ team anymore as I’ve actually been training with them for nearly 9 weeks now, and am soon to compete for the first time with this team.

I have to admit, having been training with same team for 9 years, the thought of joining a new team did make me slightly nervous. Yes, they do a few things differently but on the whole, the technique and method of coaching is still the same and I feel so lucky to have been welcomed into such a lovely new team. I feel like I have been training with them for years and have made lots of new friends outside of the university through being part of the team.

Last week I got some amazing news, after mentioning to my coach that I used to work in marketing for a web development company and that I am doing a degree in Communication, Media and Journalism, they asked if I would like to help run their social media and their website. This of course is an amazing opportunity because it is great to put on my CV, not only that it means that I could potentially help encourage new members to MKCA and make people more aware of MKCA and the cheerleading world.

On top of helping them run their social media and website, my coach said that I can do some coaching and they would pay for me get my coaching qualification. I have previously done some coaching at my previous squad, so I do have experience in coaching, but I didn’t expect to be coaching for this squad after only 9 weeks of being on the team.

I am very excited about these opportunities and can’t wait to see what I can do to improve the way MKCA use their website and social media. I have my first session of coaching on Wednesday so I will let you know how it goes.

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Below is a video of us working a few stunts in preparation for our upcoming competition.

Competition Training

So competition season is finally here and my cheerleading team are currently in the process of training for a competition which is in exactly 21 days. There are only 9 more training sessions left before the competition. This will be my first competition with my new team and I haven’t competed since the summer, so I can’t wait to get back on the competition floor.

The run up to a competition means lots of hard work and completely exhausting training sessions, by this I mean training so hard that you don’t know if you can physically continue but of course you do because if you stopped, you would letting your whole team down. After 9 years of competing this is a feeling I have become far too used to, it’s one of those feelings that you hate because quite often you are actually in pain, whether it be from just working hard or getting a punch to the face…when you first start cheerleading you quickly learn that being punched or kicked happens a lot while stunting and you just have deal with it. Each one of your muscles hurts more than you ever knew it could, but at the same time you love it because the adrenaline rush that you get from practicing your routine and (hopefully) hitting stunts pushes you through, and the results can be very rewarding. Most days after training, it hurts to even move…but I guess that just shows how hard we work.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with cheer terminology and all the weird words that we tend to use to describe certain things- ‘hitting’ something means that it went well and as planned. For example, to ‘hit’ a stunt, means that it did not fall down.

The competition that we will be performing in to start off the season is ICE Walsall in Birmingham, I’ve never competed with this organisation or at this venue before so I’m very interested to see what it’s like and how it differs from other organisations that I’ve competed with. My coach told me that this competition is fairly small, just to start off the season and see how our routine is marked by the judges and what we can change or improve before we go on to larger competitions such as internationals.

Below are a few shots of our pyramid that we will be performing at the upcoming competition and i’ll be posting another blog after the competition to let you know how it went.

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Coeliac Disease & Me

So i’m guessing you’re reading this wondering what an earth this so-called Coeliac Disease thing is…well I was thinking the exact same thing whilst I was sat in the doctor’s office 5 years ago awaiting the results on the recent tests that had been undertaken in hospital, and being told that Coeliac Disease was what I had. After a few blank looks between the doctor and my mum, the doctor realised I had no idea what he was talking about and proceeded to explain…

Coeliac Disease is defined as a life long auto-immune disease in which one’s body reacts to gluten which is found in wheat, barley and rye. In simple terms this means my body reacts very badly to eating gluten and causes serious damage to my insides. To put the seriousness of this disease into perspective I was told that if I did not follow the advised diet (which I will later explain), that the disease will eventually wear through and attack my vital organs- just that single sentence was enough to scare me into strictly following the diet straight away.

As mentioned above, Coeliac Disease comes paired with a strict diet in which you must follow if you do not want to be very poorly…this involves completely cutting gluten out of your diet, and any traces of gluten as well. Yes it is very hard (especially when you’re already a vegetarian) but it is manageable. Even the tiniest trace of gluten can make me ill for hours so I am extremely careful.

How has Coeliac Disease changed my life? 

Coeliac Disease makes eating away from home so much harder: everytime I go out to eat, I have to ask if they have a gluten free menu. If they do not have one they often hand me a huge book full of all the allergens in every meal and I then have to spend ages looking through to see which I can eat, sometimes to find that none at all meet my dietary requirements and have to leave and look for somewhere else to eat.

Another thing I have found is that when going to restaurants, those who work there can’t stand you asking questions about the ingredients, many really couldn’t care less and most certainly don’t understand the consequences of you eating gluten.

Sometimes it does go wrong and you just have to deal with the consequences of how your body reacts to eating gluten. For me, this can mean constantly being sick for up to 24 hours, depending on how much I have eaten. However, these of course are only the effects that are visible to us from the outside, some rather invasive and uncomfortable tests have shown the effect that gluten has on the inside of my body such as the wearing away of my stomach lining to the point that I no longer had a stomach lining anymore.

Something I have learnt, more so in recent years, is that the effects of Coeliac Disease on my body are not only confined to those as a direct effect of eating gluten. Coeliac Disease has had a knock-on effect on some of my body’s other systems, such as my thyroid, which is under-active and I am now medicated for. It has also caused me to have anaemia and have various issues with my heart, as well as being a potential cause of some of the scariest and most painful moments of my life- but we’ll get onto that one later.

“Can’t you just have a little bit?”

This is a question I get asked a lot and the answer is most definitely no…unless you want me to be sick in half an hour’s time. Even the smallest amount of gluten is dangerous to my body and causes me to be very ill.

As a result of having this tricky auto-immune disease, I have learnt lots of lessons, such as being disciplined and effectively managing and changing to a completely new lifestyle. As well as this, it’s important to look after myself properly in order to maintain my health. Weirdly enough, although yes of course, I would give anything to be ‘normal’ again, I think without Coeliac Disease, as cliched as it sounds…I don’t think I would be the person I am today.

Although Coeliac Disease is a pain in the ass, it has taught me some very valuable life lessons in the past five years and I’m sure that there will be many more to come.

Thank you for reading my blog!