Hi Kingston Cougars
- Tell us about Kingston Cougars cheer history.
Kingston University Cheerleading Squad was founded by a third year student in April 2007, and were formerly known as the Kingston Knights until 2011, whereby Kingston University Sports changed all the team names from Knights to Cougars! In our initial season, we started with only 27 students, most of whom had no cheerleading experience.
With hard work and dedication, accompanied by Coach Emma’s awesome routines, we went on to compete at the BCA National Cheerleading Championships within 5 months of forming the team. We won National Champions at that competition, after going against teams which had been together for years.
Since then, we have been going from strength to strength, winning consecutive National and European Championship titles, Varsity Winners for 7 years running, as well as awards from the University for Sports Club of the Year, Championship Club of the Year in 2012 & 2015, Coach of the Year 2015, individual Half & Full Colours over the last 8 years and even having our new President win the Sports Personality of the Year 2016!
- How many teams do you have and what does each team do?
We have two main teams – All Girl Level 1 Blues & Coed Level 3 Golds. Both teams are competitive, and train weekly. Blues train once a week 6-8pm on a Thursday, and is made up mostly of first years who are new to cheer. It is a great team to start cheer with! Golds is our advanced team, and train twice a week – 6-8pm on Wednesdays & 6-10pm on Thursdays. This team is made up mostly of people who been moved up from Blues after a year of two of experience, people with a lot of gymnastics, tumbling or dance experience and the men! There are also a few crossovers between the team – flyers who need the extra flying experience from being on both teams to build up confidence, some people base on one team and back or front on the other, and just filling in for the international students who leave early on in the year or for students who drop out.
We also have group stunt teams every year who tend to be named after shades of blue – this year we had All Girl Level 2 Electric & Coed Level 3 Royal!
Level 2 is a team formed from Blues members who train during Golds sessions, and Level 3 is formed of Golds who train during Blues sessions.
- What was your biggest achievement last season?
Our biggest achievement, apart from winning four National Champions titles and both teams winning 1st Place at our first competition of the year, was remaining a close-knit team and our overall perseverance. Unfortunately we had injuries happen and lost a few people from the team for various reasons, but that didn’t change our spirit – if anything, it made us work harder and brought everyone closer together! We pulled together, and everyone on both teams were consistently supporting each other throughout training and competitions – we think our teams strong bond was so special, and played a huge part in our overall performance and success.
- You got a new uniform last season, why was this ?
Cheer fashions change so quickly, and it was important for us to update the image of Cougars. It’s really important that the athletes feel pride and confidence when they compete, and a new uniform can really help with that! You want to feel like a million dollars in your uniform, and a fresh look can do exactly that.
- You guys are part of the Surrey Starlet family, how did that come about?
Our coach, Emma, is also the Head Coach of Surrey Starlets! She began coaching Cougars in the 2007 season, and has been with us ever since – leading to Cougars becoming part of the Surrey Starlets family! This year, the Cougars will even be doing some of their training at the new Surrey Starlets gym in Epsom. Many of the girls on Cougars often go on to join the senior teams for Surrey Starlets after they graduate – we currently have Cougar graduates on All Girl Senior 3, 4 & even 5!
- What was your favourite cheerleading competition of the past season?
Future Cheer University Nationals is our favourite competition – it’s our first competition of the year, and also the first competition ever for many of our new students! It is always such a quick turnaround; from finalizing the teams at the end of tryouts to the first competition. It is always the scariest competition to do but it’s the one that really bonds you as a team for the first time, and having both teams win National Champions this year brought the team even closer together with a determination to win for the rest of the season!
- What are your goals for this season?
Kingston Cougars consists of a group of the most amazing friendships and support systems for everyone involved, so next season we hope that we can once again form a close knit group who love and support each and every member of the team, and maintain the positive and friendly attitude that we have as a team! It would be great for the coaches and captains to continue encouraging members to learn to tumble, as this can make such a difference in marks at competitions and increase confidence levels. We would also love to have a Level 4 group stunt team next year. Finally, we would love to be undefeated for next season, and possibly even get Grand Champs!
- It’s that time of year where you guys will be recruiting. What you are looking for from the students?
We look for students who are dedicated, enthusiastic and are excited to try cheerleading!
It’s always a bonus if they have experience in dance and gymnastics, and can tumble but at the end of the day, we just want students who will join the team and are willing to train hard, make friends and have fun! Newcomers want to be energetic, moderately athletic, committed to cheer (or learning a new sport!) and have lots of the cheer spirit that is needed for university cheer!
- How has being part of the cheerleading team affected your university life?
Without cheer, many of us wouldn’t have enjoyed our university experience the same way – for some members of the team, being on the team was what kept them motivated to carry on with their time at university when they were contemplating giving up! You may make friends on your course, but at cheer, you fall together, you sweat together, you even bleed together and put your life in other people’s hands, and even laugh, cheer and smile together – you can’t get that kind of bond anywhere else! You get to meet so many fantastic people, not only from within the cheer family but also from meeting other sports teams that are part of Kingston, and you become part of this huge, amazing family. Cheer has genuinely made our university experience the best it can be – 10x busier, 100x better and 100% worth going to university for.
- How would you sell cheerleading to someone to someone who never heard of it?
Joining cheerleading will be one of the best decisions that you will ever make. It is a great upcoming sport – anyone who watches a cheer routine cannot deny it being aesthetically breath-taking with moments of thinking ‘How on Earth did they do that!’ It combines different elements of some very great sports – dance, acrobatics, tumbling. It’s a really fun and challenging way to keep fit – you’re going to sweat, you’re going to be gasping for water, you’re going to throw someone in the air and sometimes you’ll catch them, and sometimes your face will catch them but it’s all worth it when you hit the mat with your teammates and friends and finish a flawless routine that leaves your adrenaline pumping! There is nothing more exciting or terrifying than a cheer competition, and the thrill that runs through you is addictive. It’s all about trying new things and learning unusual skills, a sport that is exhausting but also incredibly rewarding. And to make these amazing moments is all about teamwork, and building up a huge sense of trust. Trust us when we say that once you start cheerleading, you won’t want to stop!
- What useful skills has cheerleading taught you?
Cheerleading has taught us dedication, motivation and self-improvement. Instead of getting frustrated when not achieving something, such as dropping a stunt in cheer, we instantly get back up and keep on going until it hits. Although there can be numerous injuries, this never stops our cheerleaders from being troopers and carrying on for the good of a team. Our stamina and strength have increased, and the confidence that cheerleading gives our members has helped them overcome anxiety issues both with performing as a cheerleader onstage and with their everyday life. Flexibility, fitness and time management all improve upon becoming involved with cheer, and the biggest skill learnt overall is the ability to work as a team!
- Are there any transferable skills that you have learnt from cheer that you can use later on in life?
Team building is probably the biggest transferable skill that cheerleading has taught us – to work well in a team is important. If one person in the stunt group isn’t focused or present, it’s impossible to successfully deliver the routine. Every person is important. In lives outside of cheer, learning to work with other people and putting the needs of the team before your own are both vital skills needed in many workplaces. Determination and patience are also two key skills that you need in cheer that you could use in any other situation in life. It is a combination of both, because you need to be determined to do whatever needs to be done to reach your goal, and patience because it will go wrong a lot of the time but you keep going until you get it right, and this applies to so much out of cheer as well – university, work, relationships, etc. And finally, apart from the obvious physical changes and skills such as an increase in stamina and strength, the final transferable skills that we can take from cheer would be confidence, presentation and passion. We all do cheer because we have a huge passion for it; learning to use this passion and the confidence gained from doing cheer to engage in things in your life outside of cheer can really give you a boost in life, as you really need to be passionate and confident about something to strive in it.
- What would your lives be without cheer?
Without cheer, our lives would be a lot quieter and we would have a lot more free time! And quite frankly, also a lot less fun and a lot less exciting! We would have significantly less friends from different areas of the university, which would mean we wouldn’t have met so many interesting people from across the different campuses that we don’t study on ourselves. This also means that we wouldn’t have this great group of amazing friends! We’d also be a lot less fit and maybe a little bit more fat. We wouldn’t have improved our own skills, we wouldn’t be as happy and our lives would definitely be a lot less sparkly! We also wouldn’t have the opportunity to stunt with a wonderful bunch of people every week, and that makes life without cheer really not worth thinking about.
- Do you guys use social media platforms?
Yes, we use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Periscope and have our very own website! We will also be creating our own Snapchat account this season. We have over 1,000 followers on Instagram, and we have started a new YouTube series about our team called “Rather Be A Cougar”, which follows our journey throughout the season as we train and compete! You can find us on the following social media platforms:
- Facebook & YouTube: Kingston University Cheerleading Squad
- Twitter, Periscope, Snapchat & Instagram: @kingstoncheer
- Website: http://www.kingstoncougarscheer.weebly.com
- Is there any other information you would like to share with CFHTT?
Kingston Cougars is one of the best creations from Kingston University. If you are considering joining your university’s team, don’t hesitate. Just do it! Seriously. DO IT! If you’ve never done cheerleading before, it’s a great introduction to the sport and if you’ve done All Star cheer, it’s a refreshing new approach to it. Doing cheerleading at university will change your experience of being a student – you meet so many amazing people, you have the best socials and nights out, you even go abroad on tour with your team, and you have constant support from your fellow cheerleaders. Whether you need a hug, a friend, a shoulder to cry on, a study buddy – your team is always there for you! They end up being the ones that you share your best moments at uni with, the ones that you live with, the ones who drive miles during the holidays to see you. You could be having the worst day in class, but the moment you step onto the training mat, you leave it all behind. Cheer is also a ridiculously good combat for the stress you have at uni – and for the hangovers! Cheerleading has absolutely made our time at university incredible, and not only are we a team but we are also a big, hilarious and at times dramatic family that we are proud to be part of and wouldn’t swap for anything! #RatherBeACougar
- Lastly what is your favourite UK Cheer team (apart from your team) and your favourite International cheer team and why?
It goes without saying that our favourite UK cheer team is the Surrey Starlets! Their routines are always so creative, and we know how hard they train and work to be the athletes that they are – they always give 110% on their routines! We also love Coventry Dynamite, with their incredible choreography – plus they just bring it every time. Unity All Stars are also another inspirational team, both nationally and internationally – Black & Ruby are always so exciting to watch, and we absolutely LOVE Gold because it just shows that cheer can be for absolutely anyone.
Our favourite international team is England – it’s all about National Pride when it comes to international events! However, as we are a really diverse team with many students of different nationalities, we also love watching teams such as New Zealand, Top Gun, Thailand and NU Pep Squad – all phenomenal and awe inspiring teams!
Until next time guys
Until next time guys