Here at CFHTT, we believe your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Having the courage to acknowledge when you’re not feeling mentally strong can be life-saving. We are fully aware that you may want to speak-out but feel like you can’t talk to family and friends. We are also aware that when you’re not feeling mentally strong trying to find resources to help you can be a challenge. CFHTT have created a resource of helpful information to help you on this journey of mental wellness. We hope you find this information helpful and if you have any other good resources please list them below. Lastly, when you’re feeling down and the dark clouds feel like they will never leave. Please try and hold on to the important facts that “ Your life matters and people want & need you to be around.”
Here are a handful of helpful websites, helplines and resources for when you’re struggling.
If you’re finding things hard emotionally right now, you’re not alone.
Welcome back, sadly for the last time, to Diary of a Cheerleader.
This month’s article is a little different to our others as unfortunately, it’s time for the DMU Saints to say goodbye. It’s a weird time right now, and none of us could have predicted how the end of the season would play out. I asked Grace, our secretary, to tell us how she feels about the season, as it’s her last year here with the Saints. Keep reading to hear from her.
“Before we’d realised, the season was over.”
ICC rightfully made the decision to postpone nationals to June due to Covid-19. Unfortunately, as a university team, a competition at that time of the year just isn’t feasible. We had to make the decision to pull ourselves from the competition.
From there, our university made the decision to cancel all sports related activities. This meant no more training, no sports awards, and no varsity. We, whilst saddened by the decision, understand completely the precautions taken to keep all of our athletes as safe and healthy as possible.
And that was that. Before we’d even realised, the season was over.
Our incredible Varsity Game Day Squad never got their opportunity to show off their hard work.
For some of our athletes, this is a sad end to their last year on the Saints. It can be hard to remain positive in such overwhelming and difficult times. We want to take the opportunity to ask all of our readers to make the best decisions you can during this pandemic. Please stay home wherever possible. Wash your hands frequently, and don’t touch your face. Don’t forget to clean your phone. Progress relies on us all working together.
I caught up with Grace to find out how she’s been feeling in the wake of the pandemic putting the season to an end:
This was my last year on the team this year and I am absolutely devastated it has been cut short.
I don’t think it has actually hit me that I won’t see my team again…
“I feel robbed of memories, experiences, and friends.”
The fact that we have only performed once this year is overwhelmingly disappointing. This year we had been working exceptionally hard, with starting a level 3 team and the varsity team as well as this incredible opportunity with Cheer from Head to Toe. It was planned we would be competing at 2 university national competitions (for the first time), competing at varsity, the varsity team performing at varsity game and finally a showcase to raise awareness and products for the hygiene bank.
After putting 3 years of full commitment to this uni and this cheer team for it to so suddenly be cut short is awful.
“I am honestly heartbroken…”
I feel robbed of memories, experiences, and friends. The situation escalated so quickly that goodbyes were not said, to friends of 3 years and we are now all dispersed around the world again. It is hard to find peace when nothing has been concluded, no relief that the season is over and the hard work worth it, nor that we have completed our degree.
I don’t believe that I would have ever felt ready to leave uni. I had spent the majority of the year denying that I would be going; missing out on the final hurdles and accomplishments have made it all the more difficult.
I am honestly heartbroken that through all of this we final year students may not even graduate conclusively, though all university students are continually pushed to complete work towards deadlines without full access to support or necessary equipment. Motivation has been lost and tears are constant.
I am still so proud of our achievements this year including 3rd and 2nd place at Future cheer as well as nominations for DMU’s sports awards: most inclusive sport and best coach (varsity team coach Fiona).
I will miss every person on the team that I have cheered with past and present, and I will be back, I refuse to leave like this.
“…I refuse to leave like this.”
What’s Going on For Us
You might be wondering what’s next for the Saints.
I can tell you that our student elections are now underway which is extremely exciting. This is where our members begin campaigning in the hopes of being elected for a role in committee. These roles are vital in keeping cheerleading and the DMU Saints running at the university. It’s always exciting seeing who’s going for what.
In the coming weeks, I’m hoping to make some little ‘season in review’ videos for our Varsity squad and competitive teams. It’s always nice to look back.
Soon we will be hearing back from DMU Sports regarding the Sports Awards, in which we were lucky enough to be nominated for 2 awards! These awards are: Most Inclusive Club, and our Varsity coach, Fiona, is nominated for Coach of the Year! Fingers crossed we win.
We want to say a massive thank you to all those that have followed our journey this season. It’s been one of our harder ones, with A LOT of bumps in the road. Thank you Cheer from Head to Toe for giving us a platform such as this. Thank you to Primacy Cheer for beautiful bows and taking a chance on taking part in a sponsorship. We hope that we did you proud. To whoever writes the next Diary of a Cheerleader: Have fun with it. It’s a great way to reflect on what you’re doing.
Finally, since this is the last time you’ll be hearing from me (Abbey) and the Saints, please consider following us on one of the platforms below:
When you think of the elite world of competitive cheerleading it’s hard to conjure up an image of someone wheelchair-users fitting into the mix, but with the emergence of Adaptive Abilities Cheer in recent years, this has finally become possible for athletes with additional needs.
Adaptive Abilities Cheer (formerly known as ParaCheer) is beginning to appear not only in all-star programmes (Phoenix Allstars, GCA, Momentum Cheer to name a few) but since 2017 in ICU Worlds as well. As of Worlds’ 2019 there were 4 Adaptive Abilities categories: Unified Advanced Cheer (Level 4), Unified Median Cheer (Level 3), Unified Hip Hop and Unified Freestyle Pom. Team England fielded teams in Advanced Cheer, Hip Hop, and Pom; taking home gold in all three. Team Wales also competed in Advanced Cheer, taking home the silver, with Team USA coming in third.
All of the current ICU categories use a unified approach to Adaptive Abilities. This means a mixture of disabled and non-disabled athletes. The current stipulation for ICU is that 25% of the team have some form of disability, although some UK competitions only require one athlete to have a disability to enter Adaptive Abilities categories. While the scoring grid for Adaptive Abilities is mostly the same as All-star, there are some clear changes made to ensure the safety of the athletes involved. Although Adaptive Abilities Advanced is classed as Level 4, baskets are not allowed in any routine and there are specific rules surrounding wheelchair users and anyone using ambulatory equipment.
I had the great pleasure of interviewing a number of participants in Adaptive Abilities, both as athletes and coaches; starting with Sabrina Mountjoy, A Silver and Gold World Champion Coach as Head Coach of Team Wales Adaptive Abilities Cheer, Head coach of Wales Adaptive Abilities Coalition and the Adaptive Abilities representative on the SportCheer Wales board, alongside coaching All-Star Cheer and Dance at RSD. Sabrina coached the first Team Wales team ever to enter into ICU worlds as an Adaptive Abilities division and her Para-Pom team (as they were named at the time) took home Gold in 2017. She has since been Head Coach of every Paracheer and Adaptive Abilities team that Wales have fielded. As Team Wales are not competing in ICU Adaptive Abilities this season she is also Head Coach of the newly formed Welsh Adaptive Abilities Coalition (WAAC).
I started by asking Sabrina’s reasoning for getting involved in Adaptive Abilities. She simply ‘felt that we should have been doing it for years and was happy to make sure it happened’.
When asked about the current split of disabled and non-disabled athletes, Sabrina advised that WAAC currently has a 50/50 split (7 able bodied and 7 with disability). These athletes have a range of different disabilities including sight impairments, ASD, ME, Osteogenesis Imperfecta as well as an athlete with a prosthetic leg. Having such a wide range of additional needs can create a challenge for a coach but Sabrina argues that ‘ the best part of this is the incredible forward thinking that goes into it to make sure the opportunities are there for ALL athletes’. At times this involves hours of pre-planning, ensuring that the routine choreography showcases all abilities on the team, but also keeps everyone safe. When speaking to an athlete on WAAC she personally follows a mantra of ‘Is it safe? Is it Legal? If the answer is yes then go with it!’
I also spoke to Beth Hope, a member of Team England’s Adaptive Abilities Advanced ICU team who took home the Gold in 2019. Beth has been diagnosed with ME and uses a power-assisted wheelchair while training and competing. Beth joined Cheerleading prior to her diagnosis, but as her condition began to affect her in her late teens she became unable to continue to compete in All-Star Cheer. She continued to coach and at a UK competition saw Team England Paracheer for the first time and finally saw a future for herself in the sport. She tried out for Team England for the 2018 Worlds’ but didn’t quite make it on. She continued to work on her skills and went back for another chance and made it on to the 2019 Worlds’ team for
Adaptive Abilities Advanced.
When asked about the challenges she faces as an athlete with additional needs, her main concern is being able to manage her health condition to allow her to train as well as she can. She has found that breaking down the routine and potentially not having an active part in every section allows her the chance to take a break and recover in order to make it through to the end. As a seated athlete she has also had the opportunity to be involved in a number of adapted stunts to account for her chair. For Worlds’ 2019 her chair was also adapted in order to keep her flyers safe, taking off panels and attaching her controls to the back of the chair to remove any risk of other athletes coming into contact with it.
Speaking personally as a Coach of a Level 1 Adaptive Abilities team that Beth currently trains on, I have found great joy in coming up with creative ways to involve all athletes in adapted stunts. For example, I worked with my athletes to create a quarter up to lib stunt utilising Beth as a main base. As she was unable to change position, or utilise her legs for strength in lifting her flye , the flyer had to step into an adapted ‘gut stand’ then up to an adapted prep on the bases shoulder.
While Adaptive Abilities is still relatively unknown in the World of Competitive Cheer, more grassroots teams are beginning to emerge, allowing more and more athletes with disabilities the opportunity to get involved. For anyone interested in getting involved, Paracheer International is a great resource to make a start (paracheer.org), and worth keeping an eye on their Facebook page for teams to join! With ICU Worlds providing opportunities for these teams to compete at an international level, it’s exciting to consider just how far this area of the sport can grow. A number of the Event Providers are already looking into a unified score grid to allow more competition availability for these teams. The more programmes getting involved in the UK, the more opportunity for these teams to compete and get a real feel of competitive Cheer!
The article was written by Molly
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The latest update from Sport Cheer UK regarding Competiton in the UK
” Following the government’s update this afternoon, please find SportCheer England’s updated statement below, regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
They understand that you may be concerned about the risk of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the potential impact on training, UK competitions. We hope that the following information will be helpful to you and encourage you to share it with members of your program.
Currently, in England, there is no mandate for schools and colleges to close, therefore it is assumed most other daily activities such as Cheerleading teams and classes will continue as usual. With this in mind, we recommend you undertake a specific Risk Assessment for your gym and teams, including:
Regularly sanitizing all equipment, surfaces, toilet facilities, etc
Requesting any athletes who display any symptoms or who are ill do not attend
Action plan in place for any athlete or coach who presents to you with the symptoms (including identifying somewhere to isolate them until medical assistance can be reached)
Parent drop off and pick up at the door to reduce risk
No sharing of water bottles, food, props, etc
Regular hand washing
Competitions in England
Whilst the UK has now been moved from Containment to Delay phase, today’s government announcement stated that they do not believe the risk to individuals is increased at sporting events or other mass gatherings, and are currently not imposing a ban on events of any size in England. At this time, the event providers we have spoken to intend to go ahead as planned with competitions and are being guided by government advice. For information regarding a particular competition you are attending, please visit the EP’s website and/or social media where you will find specific updates relating to their events.”
Here is the information from some of the UK event providers
Legacy Cheer and Dance
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