I want to talk about my favourite F word, feminism

Trigger/health warning: mentions of gender-based violence and misogyny.

March was women’s history month, and March 8th saw international women’s day. Yet the weeks that proceeded were jam-packed full of gender-based discrimination. Ironically, this year’s theme was “choose to challenge”. This meant challenge any gender-based inequality.

Action Aid have defined feminism as:

“an ideology and set of movements that work to achieve social, political and economic equality between the sexes.”

You see, feminism isn’t just a female issue, it’s an issue for everyone of every gender. Gender equality is equality for EVERYONE.

There are so many aspects of cheerleading to fall in love with. One of my favourites is that cheerleading is a female dominated industry. In gyms around the world females are both figuratively and literally lifting each other up. Teams are made up of strong, confident, sassy and talented woman. We’ve all heard the negative stereotypes that relate to cheerleaders. Why is that? Because like I said, it’s a female dominated sport and we live in a patriarchy (definition: a society controlled and powered by men). And anything female dominated is portrayed with negative connotations. That’s why I felt it relevant to write a blog on this topic. Gender inequality is something that impacts our wellbeing without even realising.

As your local feminist, I hear the same questions every time, “but why do we need feminism in the UK in 2021?”. I’ll narrow my answer down to a week of news stories from March 2021. Megan Markle (a black woman – intersectional feminism coming in here) was brutally questioned by viewers when speaking out about her struggles with mental health. Women were urged not to go out alone at night after Sarah Everard was murdered. The shocking fact arose that 97% of females aged 18-24 have been sexually harassed. Breonna Taylor’s family still have not had justice for her death a year on. Over 40,000 ASDA supermarket workers have taken ASDA to the supreme court after raising claims over equal pay. Our eyes were opened to the negative portrayal of Asian women in Hollywood and the media. Women and marginalised genders continue to be subject to gender discrimination.

But this is all really doom and gloom, so why am I being such a Negative Nelly? It’s important to know why this topic is so important prior to championing it. Otherwise, what exactly are you fighting for?

If we look specifically at sport, we see disproportionate pay, sponsorship opportunities and visibility in female athletes in comparison to their male counterparts. Even in our sport of cheerleading, a sport where there is a majority of female athletes, it’s still the males that are in the leadership positions – think coaches, choreographers, legislators, directors. Back to that patriarchal society. Let’s not forget, there are more than these two genders who even don’t seem to get a look in.

On the flip side, let me share some positive female achievements that deserve more visibility and more airtime! In the UK alone:

  • 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup: England, champions
  • 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup: England, third place
  • 2017 ICU World Championships: Team England All Girl Cheer, WORLD CHAMPIONS
  • 2018 Commonwealth Games: England Netball, gold medallists
  • 2019 ICU World Championships: Team England Junior All Girl Cheer, WORLD CHAMPIONS
  • Ellie Simmonds OBE: 5x Paralympic gold medallist, 14x World Champion, youngest person to achieve an MBE.
  • Rebecca Adlington OBE: 2x Olympic & Commonwealth gold medallist, World Champion, first British swimmer in over a century to win 2x Olympic gold medals.
  • Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Olympic & 3x World Champion heptathlete, one of Britain’s most successful athletes.
  • Allyson Felix (USA) holds the record for most gold medals won at the World Championships. She actually surpassed Usain Bolt’s record AFTER the birth of her child.
  • The majority of board members across Sport Cheer UK are fierce females.
  • Sport Cheer Scotland is governed entirely by females – how awesome is that!

There are so many reasons to celebrate women. These achievements are just a few that I felt relevant enough to share here at Cheer From Head to Toe. And of course, you don’t have to be the “perfect” feminist to champion female rights, what does perfect mean anyway? As Maya Angelou once said,

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better”

My feminist journey has been rocky itself, even in cheer. I’m not afraid to admit that I used to be really snobby towards side-line cheer. I’m not now, I’ll add, it was my internal misogyny & unconscious bias. I thought it was un-feminist to be a female cheering on the boys’ sports teams. Then I became my university’s Club Captain where I oversaw the cheer, pom and side-line cheer teams. I then realised that these girls (and guys) just wanted to have fun by performing for a crowd and cheering on the games. It was their choice to do so, and I respected that. And that reflection seems so obvious to me now. All-star cheer is where my heart is at; side-line cheer is not for me, but neither is tennis. And that’s exactly what being a feminist is.

“A huge part of being a feminist is giving other women the freedom to make choices you might not necessarily make yourself” – Lena Dunham.

We all have unconscious biases. That may relate to gender, sexuality, age, race, religion, you name it. What we need to do is reflect on what our unconscious biases are and be aware of them when they come into your mind. Replace those thoughts by treating everyone as a unique individual, regardless of their differences. As I said right at the beginning, feminism = gender equality. And gender equality is equality for everyone. I know we as cheerleaders love to celebrate the success of our teammates in the gym. We know that celebrating someone else’s success does not take away from our own. So let’s take that celebration from the gym out into the world. Whatever your gender, put feminism on your agenda. And most importantly, I’ll say it again for the people at the back, respect females enough to allow them to make choices that you wouldn’t necessarily make yourself.

To continue championing gender equality, follow feminist accounts to educate yourself on the cause. They often share female icons throughout history that perhaps haven’t been given the recognition they deserve. Accounts I recommend are Feminist News Now, UK Feminism, Munroe Bergdorf and Florence Given (a little less PG).

If any of the topics mentioned have impacted you directly, know there is support out there for you. For grounding techniques and tips to manage flashbacks, follow the link below from the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC):

For further advice regarding your legal rights as a female, explore the Rights of Women’s website below:

Another fantastic resource if you have been a victim of any crime is Victim Support. They also have an email and telephone support line:

I hope you’ve found something useful in this month’s blog post. As always, if there is anything in particular that you’d like us to cover, drop us a message on any of our socials. If you would like to feature online, tag us in your photos and use the hashtags #CFHTT and #UpsideDownTime

Ta’ra,

Rach x

Written by Rachel

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Division Spotlight: Traditional Pom

It feels a bit weird to be writing about an re-emerging division in the midst of a pandemic when the best competition experience we can hope for is virtual competitions. There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon though and hopefully we will be back to competitions soon.

The division is called “Traditional Pom”, or “Cheer Dance” depending on the EP (event provider) and until now the division has been growing stronger in Scotland. Traditional Pom is an old division that is moving down from Scotland, they have been making moves to bring this division down South so their teams could compete in England. (UKCA offer a division with the same name, but it means something completely different.)

What is Traditional Pom?

Traditional Pom is Pom, but with a focus on Pom Technique as opposed to skills execution. It is Pom in the purest sense, where the focus is on formations, performance, motion technique, complexity and strength and routine visuals. No turns or leaps. Jumps are allowed, but best used to support visuals.

I thought “Cheer Dance” was an umbrella term for Pom, Jazz, Lyrical and Hip Hop?

Technically, this is incorrect. The umbrella term should be “performance cheer” not “cheer dance” as determined by ICU, who are the Olympics-recognised international governing body. No doubt everyone will understand you if you use Cheer Dance to reference all the divisions, but “Performance Cheer” is the correct term. I often have to correct myself as this was such a learned behaviour when I went to university!

Why could it be an important division in England?

Quite simply, it could be more competitive.

1. Traditional Pom rewards the best Pom choreography and performance, while discounting skills. I don’t think it’s radical to suggest Pom is a fast growing sport with many new teams opening every year in this country, often fielding athletes with little performance cheer experience. These teams are hugely important for the future growth and competitiveness of the sport. Yet it takes time to build up the variety of complex skills in performance cheer, especially if you’re a grassroots team, and will put new teams at a competitive disadvantage to more established teams which might take many years to overcome. Traditional Pom puts all players on a more even playing field, with less for newcomers to work on, and really tests the strength of a team’s and their coaches’ core pom knowledge.

2. For more established teams, Traditional is also a hugely important opportunity. Even if you have skills galore, you will be fast overtaken in the Freestyle Pom division by teams with both a decent skill level and Traditional Pom skills. As a coach and team, Traditional Pom ensures that you are also working and actively thinking on the elements central to Pom, such as formations, Pom motion technique and performance. Competing in Traditional Pom is every bit as much a challenge for established coaches and athletes, it is useful to get focused feedback and you will definitely see the benefits in Freestyle Pom.

I would love to see teams both in university and Allstar circuits that attend BCA to give this division a go. I would also love to see ICE and Cheer City, traditionally competitions friendlier to grassroots teams, to add this division in and advertise it.

Can you get a worlds bid with Traditional Pom?

As ISASF does not offer this as a division, you cannot currently get a worlds bid when competing in Traditional Pom. Pom bids offered by EPs are going to go to the “Pom” (Freestyle Pom style) category.

We are delighted that a couple of teams in Scotland spoke to us about their experience with Traditional Pom/Cheer Dance. Scotland is currently the strongest country in the British Isles for Pom, their teams consistently placing the highest at worlds and getting the biggest % of Pom bids and perhaps their understanding of divisions such as Cheer Dance is why. Scottish teams are generally lauded for their performance, visuals and strong and consistent Pom technique, many of them entering this division in addition to Freestyle Pom/Pom.

Leanne Wrench

is the programme owner of Silver Spirit Cheer and Dance in Helensburgh, and was also recently announced as one of the Scottish National Coaches for 2020-21 for Adaptive Abilities Pom. SSCD frequently has successful athletes audition for various divisions of the Scottish National Teams.

Karen King

is the programme owner of Blast Cheer and Dance in Glasgow. Blast was formed in 2005 and is part of Blast Dance Academy.  They have won many first place trophies over the years but Cheer Dance/Traditional Pom has been where they shine with their senior team in particular being undefeated in many years.  Karen’s background is in dance and have qualifications in tap, modern, Pom, jazz, hip hop and cheer.  Her biggest achievement in Allstar dance has been competing at US Finals in Virginia and coming first place.

1. When did you start competing in this division?

Leanne: We began in the cheer dance section around 5 years ago (2016).

Karen: We started competing in cheer dance around 2011.

2. Why do you choose to compete in this division in addition to/instead of Freestyle Pom?

Leanne: We chose cheer dance instead of Pom as we were a beginner team and found cheer dance more suitable to the beginners we had at the time. As we grew as a team, even those who crossed over from Pom say they have MUCH more fun in the traditional section as there is no technique it is much less pressure.

Karen: When we originally started competing back in 2005 there was only one division and this was Pom.  Pom at that time was nothing like it is now and although there were technical elements like pirouettes, you rarely saw fouettes and advanced turn sequences. As the years went by, Pom became much more technical and as a team we were strong in motions and jumps but had some way to go with our dance technicals. When we first saw cheer dance at Scotcheer we realised that this was the division to better show off our skills.

3. What elements did you notice vastly improved in your dancers by competing in this division?

Leanne: In general our team seem to adapt much better to fast-paced choreography and formation changes, our dancers became much sharper and much more keen to work as a ‘larger’ team.

Karen: Without the pressure of adding technical skills, we were able to spend more time focusing on other areas of the score sheet. Our Cheer Dance teams are generally sharper with more strength behind their motions than some of our Pom teams. Any of our athletes who started off in a cheer dance team before moving into a Pom team has the advantage of going in with strong jumps and motions already under their belt.From a coach point of view, it has made me stronger at creating levels and formations.

4. Best advice to be competitive in this division?

Leanne: My best advice would be to create choreography that the athletes enjoy, the more enjoyable it is for them to perform the more enjoyable it is to watch. Keep it clean but visual and to learn as you go.

Karen: It’s important to have fun with choreography. If the music and choreography is fun then the athletes can really get into it. Just because there isn’t technical skills doesn’t mean it can’t be entertaining. Show off your best skills!  

5. With more EPs introducing it, what else do you think is needed to help grow this division?

Leanne: More teams entering the division is all we can hope for. We’re delighted BCA are catering for the division to English competitions too!

Karen: There just needs to be more awareness of the division and what it looks like since this division has only really existed in Scotland until now. Cheer dance can be extremely entertaining and impressive to watch and a great division to dance in. I would be happy to chat to any coaches who were looking for more information or clarification on how to create a team for this division.

What do you think about traditional pom? Do you have any questions about it? Message us at @cheerfromheadtotoeuk

Written by CFHTT Dance writer Emma

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Hope is on the Horizon

Knowing a lot of our viewers are university students, I wanted to write about something in line with
University Mental Health Day, which was Thursday 4th March.
In this month’s blog post, I wanted to explore some wellbeing tips of mine. I know we’ve already
ridden the highs and lows of the Corona-coaster, and whilst there is hope upon the horizon, these
last few weeks and months may feel harder. You’re know that last week of the month before
payday? Those moments where you’re literally looking for pennies under the sofa to get through
each day until you feel like you hit the jackpot when you pay rolls in? I’m guessing that’s exactly how
these next few months will feel. Except it’s not a week, it’s several.
Come rain or shine, the summer is looking fabulous. Whether the magical June 21 st fairy is able to
wave covid away or not. Naturally infection rates reduce in the warmer months. With the added
bonus of the roll out of the vaccines, infection rates should start dropping rapidly – so long as we’re
still following guidelines. With that end goal in sight, it’s important we start preparing ourselves to
go back out into the wild. It was a huge shock to go into lockdown initially. As I’ve always said, one of
the greatest strengths of humans is that we are adaptable. And to some degree, we’ve adapted
pretty well to lockdown measures. To prevent another shock to the system come the summer
months, I want to share some tips on how we can remain positive and utilise these next few months
to prepare ourselves.

Prep


Whether this is cheer prep, meal prep, fitness prep, packing prep, etc.; preparation is key! I will
never forget the quote that was written above my high school’s changing room corridor:
“The failure to prepare is preparing to fail”
Now I am someone who goes completely overboard when it comes to preparation. I’m not expecting
you to be as precise as me, but I’ll tell you why I plan every little detail. Each day we only have the
capacity to make a certain amount of decisions before we start experiencing that decision-making-
burnout. That number will be different to each individual. If we just think about the most basic
decisions: deciding what outfit to wear, what socks to wear, what we’ll have for breakfast, lunch and
tea. That is already five decisions before I’ve even gone about my day. Making those decisions ahead
of time saves me using up my decisions on little things like clothing and meals.
Initially this level of planning took a long while. Now it takes less than five minutes as I’ll just have
the month on repeat. That way it’s not even all that repetitive. Again, you don’t have to be as precise
as me, but incorporating little things like this will help relieve day-to-day stress. It is also a great help
if you can be forgetful. Something as simple as planning your meals for the week will also help you
spend less on your weekly shop and waste less food also. It’s a win win!

Goals

Something that goes hand in hand with preparation is goal setting. Now I’m not going to sit here and
teach you how to suck eggs, don’t worry. Setting goals provides you with a timeline and helps keep
you motivated when you can see your results before you’ve even reached your end target. The key
there is setting mini goals.

For example, if you want to get your needle, we know you should probably start with your splits
each side, bridge work and shoulder flexibility. Already there are several goals you can hit along the
way to make yourself feel better before you’ve grabbed that needle.
The same with any kind of flexibility, tumbling, strength and conditioning, cardio and even things like
tidying up. Of course, I’m a sucker for a list. So something as trivial as tidying my flat, I’ll have a list
for each room. E.g. put clothes wash on, hang clothes up to dry, fold and put away clothes, tidy the
floor, hoover and mop. Sometimes those six mini goals feel a little less daunting than “tidy
bedroom”. It’s the same with anything. Ticking off those mini goals will help keep you motivated and
give you the feeling of accomplishment.

Routine

Over the past year I’ve noticed how integral a routine is to my wellbeing. I know just how difficult it
is to wake up each day when you don’t have school or work to get up for. If you don’t want to be hit
with the shock of early mornings come the summer months, I’d advice tweaking your routine now.
Think of it this way, our cheer routines are set routines for a reason. If your team did a free-for-all
for two and a half minutes, the judges wouldn’t know where to look and it would not do for easy
viewing. Be your own cheer coach; organise your daily routine with what works for you. At the top of
the scoresheet is motivation, life satisfaction and happiness. Keep them in mind during your
planning process!

Self-Care

A common misconception is that self-care is all about “me time” which includes face masks, bubble
baths and spa days. I’m not saying that spa days aren’t an integral part of my wellbeing – and if I had
more money, they’d definitely be a regular thing, but I digress. Myself and Caroline touched on this
topic during our Instagram Live which you can now catch as an IGTV on the Cheer From Head to Toe
Instagram. Self-care is so much more than the lotions and potions located in your bathroom. Self-
care is sometimes about doing the tasks we don’t enjoy. For me those include washing my hair,
cleaning the bathroom and washing out my water bottle (why do they make water bottles so
difficult to clean?). As much as it drains my energy, if I don’t do the above, it’ll be detrimental to my
health.
Also, in my self-care routine is exercise. Physical activity is imperative for our wellbeing for a huge
number of reasons. Sometimes I’m so keen to get moving. Other times, not so much. Whether it’s
your cheer session, a HIIT session, yoga or a run; stick it in your routine and do it no matter what.
Worst case scenario is that you will only do a short five-minute burst. That’s five minutes more than
you would have done if you’d have stayed in bed. Usually, once you’re up and moving, you’ll want to
carry on anyway.
Next time you sit down to do goal setting and routine planning, think about both the fun and the
not-so-fun self-care tasks. And make sure you plan something enjoyable and motivating either side
of the tasks that you feel may suck the life out of you. Expecto Patronum those dementors away!

Self-maintenance

I debated putting this in. For so many years I had my head stuck in the sand when it came to self-
maintenance. I didn’t think it was important at all and thought it was just for those people who
loved themselves. And I want you to just think about that for a second. When we say someone
“loves themselves”, it’s often used as an insult. Often it comes from a place of jealously. In reality,
we should all love ourselves! We should love every part of our mind and body, inside and out. It’s
not a crime to feel good in your body or wear the clothes you feel comfortable in. So work on that
skincare routine, go through your wardrobe, update your underwear drawer to some that actually fit
you and fit you well. Learn how to manage your hair. Make sure your wearing the correct size shoes.
Put up some decorations or pictures that remind you of the good times. We need to get rid of this
stiff upper lip mentality if we want to truly embrace positive wellbeing.

Social Support


Lastly is social support. Whether it’s talking to friends about your day, colleagues about post-covid
plans, or close family about the tough day you’ve had; don’t play the martyr. You can’t pour from an
empty cup, so you can’t expect to be there for everyone without allowing people to be there for
you. If you need a chat but don’t feel like anyone in your life is able to provide the level of support
you need, there are organisations set up to help people in situations just like that. There are so many
helplines out there (telephone, email, online chat and text) that I couldn’t write an exhaustive list as
there is such a huge variety of needs. If there’s a specific topic or organisation you are looking for,
drop us a message on our socials. We’ll be sure to signpost you to the most appropriate
organisation. Failing that, speak to your GP if you feel you would benefit from long-term support, or
to signpost you to local support services.
Before I sign off, I just want to add that you don’t have to be proactive every minute of every day.
There will be days where your routine does not go to plan. We’ve all been in those positions where
you have all the will in the world to keep that stunt in the air, but it still falls to the ground. What do
you do in that situation? You get back up and give it your all. One blip does not determine the end
result. Keep pushing and we’ll be there before you know it!
That’s all from me, take care,

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Breaking News:Worlds move to September so international team can attend.

On Wednesday 17 of February 2021 it was announced yesterday on IASF group that Worlds will be moved to September so international team may attend.

Below is the official statement released.

This statement was releases by IASF Secretary General Les Stella, who also just announced that he will be leaving his role.

” Update: 2021 IASF Worlds ChampionshipsWith the goal of making some level of participation available for our athletes worldwide, the IASF has been working to secure dates sometime in September 2021 for its annual Worlds Championship in Orlando. In the event that travel continues to be impacted due to Covid 19, the IASF is considering a virtual 2021 IASF Worlds Championship option as well. We are also not ruling out some type of hybrid format that allows for both in-person and virtual categories. We hope to have the dates finalized within the next two weeks and will post this information as soon as we know it.Teams that are eligible to participate in the International divisions for Cheer and Junior and Open divisions for Dance in the USASF Competition this May will also be able to participate in the IASF Worlds Championship this September. • The IASF will also honor all bids for teams who earned bids to either the 2020 or 2021 Cheer and Dance Worlds. • The only teams that are not required to receive a bid are Level 7 teams. All Level 7 teams are welcome to attend (including Level 7 teams in the U.S.) • The IASF substitute rules and regulations will not be enforced for the IASF Worlds Championship in the Fall of 2021.Lastly, the traditional bid distribution model will be used to determine which teams qualify for the 2022 IASF Worlds Championship and the IASF plans to return the IASF Worlds Championship to the customary date of late April in 2022.”

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

It is great to see IASF making a path way for international teams to compete but if we can’t train it doesn’t matter, I’m not getting to excited yet.

What are your thoughts comment below

until next guys

Delightfully Dyslexic

Caroline

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Pushing Forwards.

How gloomy has January been? This month’s upside-down-time’s blog post is going to be completely right-side-up. We’re going to talk all things positive and keep it cheery. I probably won’t even talk about cheerleading if I’m completely honest. For once I’m not going to mention the “C” word, Miss Rona, I’m not going to give her the satisfaction. I’m over it.

We can find inspiration in the strangest of ways. My inspiration for this blog post was on my drive to work. I saw a man walking his dog. To paint a picture, this was a massive, hugely fluffy, black dog. The dog had clearly had enough and was just lying in the grass. The owner? Well he was just stood there smiling, holding the dog’s lead, just waiting patiently for the dog to get up and carry on with the walk. I’ve been that owner before, but instead I’ve been frustrated, looking at my watch, trying to goad my dog into continuing the walk. But now, more than ever, I feel like the dog. I just want to tap out for ten minutes. Black Fluffy Dog, I feel you. And to be honest, I think we should all be more Black Fluffy Dog. If something’s stressing you out, have a break. Feeling overwhelmed? Just sit it out. There is a true moral to the story here. In all seriousness, we need to encompass both the Black Fluffy Dog, but also the patient dog owner.

2020 just sounds snazzy. Twenty-twenty, flashy. It SHOULD have been filled with celebrations, parties, growth, achievement. If you really think about it, it has. We’ve had to learn to celebrate the small wins, we’ve partied over zoom, we’ve had to look within and strive towards self-growth, and let’s be real, getting dressed and making an effort is an achievement in itself! We’ve had to look inwards; we’ve had to utilise our metaphorical self-soothing toolkit which is something that often takes years of therapy to figure out – and we’ve done that from our own homes.

2020 is the walk the Black Fluffy Dog had just had enough of. Sometimes we need to remember that it’s ok to have a break, it’s ok to take your foot of the pedal… So long as you use that break to rest, recuperate, re-strategize, and get right back into that walk. People are always saying, “life’s too short” and I’m here to tell you that it is not. Life is long – if you were present in any of my university lectures you would know that too. We’re thrown this idea that you have to live life in the fast lane, that if you don’t take up that opportunity straight away the opportunity will pass. Fake news. Living like that only has us searching for corners to cut. So you have a goal, you work yourself to the bone and achieve it in a month. Then what? Onto the next goal which you achieve within a week, and the cycle repeats. How many new goals will you achieve before you burnout? Like I said at the beginning of this article, I’m not going to talk about negativity, and therefore I won’t go into the ins and outs of burnout. Friends, we don’t want to burn out. We want to keep that flame lit for as long as we can.

Forward is forward, whether you’re running, walking or crawling. A mantra I live by everyday is to strive for progress, not perfection. Perfection doesn’t exist, but you know that. I’ve spent so many years striving for perfection, to be the best in whatever that may be. All it did was make me miserable. “But when I’ve done X I’ll be happy”, “but once I’ve completed Y I’ll be satisfied”, “when I get onto Z I’ll feel complete”. SPOILER ALERT: I achieved X, Y and Z. Was I happy, satisfied, or complete? I’ll let you answer that. Fast forward past all the burnout, the heartache, the feeling of being a failure, now I feel happy, now I feel satisfied, now I feel complete. That’s all down to the work I did within myself. You can have the best relationships with your friends, family and colleagues, but the most important relationship you will ever build will be with yourself. Afterall, you spend so much time in your head, talking to yourself – don’t try to deny it. Let me ask you, if you spoke to your best friend the way you talk to yourself, would they still be your best friend? If the answer is no, well done for recognising that. It’s time to get to work. If you answered yes, I’m proud of you.

Lastly, I want to talk about motivation. Recently I’ve had a lot of people ask me how to stay motivated, or how they can become motivated. I wish there was like a spell you could put on yourself, or a flavour of drink that would give you endless amounts of motivation. The truth is, sometimes you’re not going to be motivated. Black Fluffy Dog was probably extremely motivated when the owner got out the lead at home. Halfway through the walk, Black Fluffy Dog lost that motivation. Sometimes a little rest will bring that motivation back to life. Sometimes having structure will help. If you’ve tried both of those and haven’t got anywhere, I’m inviting you to try and create a vision board. Vision boards are like a bucket list for the year ahead, and they’re great to create at the beginning of the year.

There are a number of ways you can create a vision board. The easiest way is probably on a laptop or PC. You can start by doing a 2021 vision board. So open up Word, and title it 2021. Gather some images of things you want to complete in 2021. Will you be finishing a certain course, getting a new skill, making a certain team, are you hoping to pass your driving test, dare I say go on a particular holiday, get a new car, adopt a pet, learn an instrument, again dare I say get married? Whatever you want to achieve, grab an image online and paste it onto your vision board. I tend to do a vision board for the year, then a vision board for within 5 years as well. If you’re feeling crafty you can also do this on a big piece of paper and glue on printed images or cut-outs from magazines. You can add text, glitter, whatever inspires you. You need to feel excited when you look at it. I’ll add in a couple of examples (that aren’t mine by the way). You can also find some great vision board tutorials on YouTube.

No one needs to see this vision board but you. When you’ve lost all motivation to do an assignment and you’re thinking, would it really be all that bad if I failed this course, look to your vision board. If you’re due to finish your course in the summer, is it worth flunking that one assignment? If you’re bored of your Zoom classes and don’t fancy going this week, have a look on your vision board to your section about cheer. Are you hoping to get on a specific team, reach a flexibility goal or go to Worlds even? Does your decision of missing your Zoom class align with your long-term goal? Vision boards help you see the bigger picture. Whilst the thing you’re dealing with may not fill you with a ton of motivation in the moment, there’s a reason you’re doing it, what is that reason? What does your vision board say?

The moral of the story is that we want to have the patience of the dog owner, and the forgiveness of the Black Fluffy Dog. Specifically, patience and forgiveness within yourself. Valentine’s Day is coming up, and I want you to work on the relationship you have with yourself!

I hope you’ve found something useful in this month’s blog post. As always, if there is anything in particular you’d like us to cover, drop us a message on any of our socials. If you would like to feature online, tag us in your photos and use the hashtags #CFHTT and #UpsideDownTime

Written by Rachel

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Breaking news: New way to earn a bid to the 2021 Worlds

Breaking news: it has just been announced that there is a new way to earn a bid to the 2021 Worlds.

From my understanding of this statement ( please read the picture below) as long as you have gone to three worlds bid events in person or virtually you can get a bid to attend the 2021 worlds. From our understanding, this is the first time in history this opportunity has ever been available.

 My concern about this new pathway to worlds is what does this say about our sport.

Is it ok for us to change the rules this drastically because of the pandemic?

I don’t feel this is a good idea because Worlds is for the Elite of our sport and this new pathway changes that. Worlds is the Olympics of our sport, not just anyone can go to the Olympics.

Do you agree or disagree comment below?

 

ps these rules do not apply to international teams as we are govern by IASF we are waiting see what they will say regarding worlds 2021.

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It’s Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

It’s Cervical Cancer Prevention Week and 1 in 3 women still see cervical screening as a taboo topic.
CFHTT family member Rachel shares her story as Her self and a lot of my friends are now “of age” for a cervical screening invitation.
” When I was 23 I was referred for an early smear test due to my symptomatic abnormalities. I was so scared. No one talks about cervical screenings, so the fact I had to go for an early one filled me with so much fear. The doctors, nurses and Health Care Assistants were SO helpful in calming my nerves, answering my questions and making me feel as comfortable as possible. The actual smear was completely pain-free. Luckily I didn’t have HPV but was monitored with regular biopsies for about a year due to my abnormal cells. The biopsies are considerably more uncomfortable than a smear test, but nothing in comparison to what I may have had to endure later on if I didn’t have these early observations. Two years later and my cells are back to normal! I dread to think how things could have escalated if I had waited until I’d had the invitation, or even worse, if I hadn’t have gone at all. I’m so lucky to be in the position I am now. I thought having the HPV jab at school would have avoided all this, and that’s what confused me most of all. I was told that the HPV vaccination I had (which was the first lot given), doesn’t vaccinate against all forms of HPV. Whilst HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer, even if you had the “good” HPV vaccine, it’s still so important to go to your smears – I didn’t have HPV but still had abnormal cells. I’m so lucky that I listened to my body, and I put my health before the fear or embarrassment of attending a smear test.

If you have a cervix, get informed! If you think something’s not right, or you’re due to go for a cervical screening yourself, GET IT BOOKED. It could save your life! If you’re able to, join me in the #smearforsmear for #cervicalcancerpreventionweek

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Allstar Dance’s Triple Crown: Louise Durrant

We’d like to introduce you to Louise.

Performing at worlds with Cheerforce Ladies of Ten

Louise Durrant is the only dancer to date to hold the triple crown of being accepted onto Team England Pom, Jazz and Hip Hop. She was one of the original members of the first ever unified England Pom team in 2016, competing with them at Europeans in 2016 and ICU worlds in 2017 and 2018, before being accepted onto the first unified Team England Jazz team, competing at worlds in 2019. 2020 was supposed to be the year she made her debut with Team England Hip Hop. Louise was also one of the coaches behind the Team England Adaptive Abilities Hip Hop gold medals at ICU in 2018 and 2019, and tin 2018 was one of the dancers on the team that won Cheerforce Ladies of Ten their first IASF Pom bid, all while remaining as a coach and teacher at her original team and school, The Cheerleading Academy (High Wycombe) and ESPA.

We speak to her about her training, her memories, tryouts for Team England and her plans for the future.

1. What is your dance background?

I started dancing when I was about 6 years old doing disco freestyle, modern and hip hop in my teenage years. When I was 18, I went to The Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts to do a foundation course in dance and then went on to Masters Performing Arts college to continue training. I’ve always been really interested in hip hop and started training locking in some of the clubs in Liverpool and a little while after graduating I started training and performing with an all female hip hop collective called Myself UK in London. I currently dance with JME Dance Company who are based in Nottingham and train mainly in waacking, vogue, hip hop and jazz funk. I actually really love training in new styles and will throw myself into anything, so over the years have dabbled in many different styles haha. 

2. What teams were you involved with before, during and after Team England?

Before Team England I was dancing and coaching with The Cheerleading Academy – High Wycombe. Since then I’ve also competed with Cheerforce Ladies of Ten and competed at Europeans with Bath Spa University. 

3. How did you hear about Team England?

Through my friend Alice Robinson who was the Head Coach of TCA High Wycombe at the time. Looking back, I was so clueless about Pom when I went to tryouts. I often joke about doing a baby freeze in my audition haha, but I learnt so much from that first tryout. 

4. What do you remember most about your first worlds?

Being overwhelmed and nervous haha. I hadn’t actually been a part of the cheer world for long and I didn’t really know much about Worlds. I found the whole experience so different from anything I had ever done before, but at the same time it was so exciting! I was amazed by the amount of talent I saw over the week and came away feeling so inspired and determined to be better and come back stronger. 

Performing at ICU worlds with the first unified Team England pom

5. Can you give us a brief overview of what the audition process was like for Pom, Jazz and Hip Hop?

The pom audition was a full day audition with two rounds and they had a recall for the afternoon. The first round of the Pom audition covered kicks, leaps, jumps, pirouettes, motion drills and they also asked us to choreograph our own pom choreography with specific skills included. This was performed one at a time in front of a panel. The second round covered the same skills, but in more detail and we were asked to try some more advanced pirouette and a la seconde sequences, as well as set Pom choreography.

For the jazz audition we had the option to either attend the audition day or submit a video if we weren’t able to make the audition day. I submitted a video submission where we were asked to show specific skills and learn set choreography to perform back on camera. I enjoyed submitting a video audition, however it was quite a challenge learning the choreography from a video and performing it on your own in a studio to a camera rather than a panel. I think sometimes you have to work harder in a video audition to really show off your personality and performance when you a submitting a video audition and you don’t always get the same buzz that you would feed off in an in person audition. 

The hip hop audition was actually run like a workshop day. We started the day focusing on various different styles and foundations (house, breaking, locking etc) and then went on to learn a routine and perform it back in groups. 

Each audition was very much run like a workshop day and I learnt so much in each one. It took about a week for each team to find out whether we’d made the team or not. Usually each team will offer you feedback if you request feedback, so don’t ever be afraid to ask. It’s always good to know what you need to work on and shows that you are wanting to work hard and improve. 

6. What challenges have you faced when training for worlds? (other than COVID!)

Haha we’ll skip past covid! I think one of the big challenges for me ( was fitness… the older I get the longer my body takes to recover from training. Also the travelling can be tiring and a lot, but well worth it! 

7. What advice would you give for someone who wanted to try out for Team England?

Just GO FOR IT!!! Honestly, you just never know what will happen! Make sure you look at the list of skills they require you to have to be on the team and work on making them as strong as you can for the audition (this shows that you are willing to work hard, push yourself and have a lot of determination). 

Don’t think of the audition day as a tryout, but as a workshop day instead, that way it will take the pressure off and you are allowing yourself to learn and absorb all of the knowledge given to you on the day. If you get a place amazing and if not you have then learnt lots of new drills and skills to work on for auditions the year after. 

If being on a Team England team is something you really want then don’t give up. Keep trying out, practicing and working hard until it happens for you! 

Being crown World Champion in what was then called Para Hip Hop with Team England.

8. Can you recommend key skills to master before trying out for each Team England Dance team?

For pom and jazz it is really important that you have strong a la seconde turns, pirouettes, jumps and leaps. Pom requires really strong and sharp motion technique so work on strengthening those arms and I would say that jazz requires really strong artistry, musicality and performance.

For hip hop they have a list of tricks that they like you to be able to do including a headspring, resurrection and kip up. Their audition also includes a focus on styles including locking, house and breaking, so having an understanding of the foundations of each style would also really help. 

9. What is your proudest moment?

This is a really hard question haha, I don’t really ever think of being proud….I’m always like ‘right, what can I do now’ haha. I think one moment I remember being proud of myself was when I competed at Worlds as Dance Captain with TE Jazz. I remember really struggling with training that year and constantly telling myself I wasn’t good enough to be on the team, so being able to compete as DC and the team getting through to finals in 6th place made me really proud that I’d pushed past my insecurities and made it to Worlds with such an amazing and talented team. 

Another moment would be coaching Adaptive Abilities Hip Hop and watching them win gold after they had trained so hard for months. 

Team England Jazz uniform.

10. What different challenges do you face in coaching compared to being an athlete?

I love coaching! I really enjoy watching athletes determination and grit and love seeing them realise their potential. In coaching I would say the main challenges come when you have changes to the team line up and have to rework choreography and formations. For TE coaches they also have the responsibility of finding sponsors and organising the trip to Worlds. The hard work finding sponsors is worth it though, we’ve been lucky to work with loads of amazing sponsors such as Stateside UK, Ace Custom Prints and Lady Sparkle Designs.

11. What else would you love to achieve?

I would just really love to make it onto the Worlds floor with TE Hip Hop haha. It has been such a challenging year for teams all around the world and I have so much admiration for every single coach and athlete who has struggled through last year. It’s not been easy, but we’ve all worked hard to push through and continue training over zoom. I just really hope that we can get out to Worlds or onto the mat and show everyone how hard we have all continued to train. I would also love to focus more time on coaching for TE. Although I have coached before, I’ve always been competing for another team at the same time and so haven’t really experienced the full coaching journey at Worlds. Every coach I have had on TE has been absolutely incredible and I have learnt so much from them. I would love the opportunity to work with them and learn from the way they coach and encourage their athletes. They are a huge inspiration to me. 

photo by @htoymedia

We absolutely loved talking to Louise about her experiences. Who are your Allstar Dance inspirations? Send us a message @cheerfromheadtotoeuk on Instagram.

Watch our Team England pom documentary and see Louise in action on Team England Pom.

Written by Emma

I’m Emma and I am delighted to be writing up some more dance content for Cheer From Head to Toe. I was introduced to this world in 2010 when my school started up a Pom team which I was never on but I really loved watching them. I started Performance Cheer in 2012 at university at UEA and fell in love with it, working very hard to learn everything I could. I went from a reserve in my first year to eventually president of cheerleading dance in my final year. On graduating and moving to London, I felt I still had more to learn and achieve so I joined the Sparks Allstars Pom, Jazz and Lyrical teams in 2016 and have been very happy there ever since. I have competed in Pom, Jazz and Lyrical over the last seven years (I wish I was cool enough for hip hop – it might happen yet!). I’m a marketer for financial services businesses in the City of London, where I live with my Scottish boyfriend, and my cats.

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