**CFHTT interview with Emily was previously written when she was part of the programme Aviator Allstars and is currently on Unity Allstars level 6 team Unity Steel.**
Why did you join cheerleading
I joined cheerleading as I watched it online and thought wow that looks pretty awesome. At the time I was a dancer and had been for 10+ years I wanted to try something new something fun and team based. Cheerleading was the sport I chose and I went for my trial session, the people were amazing the atmosphere was amazing and that’s when and why I joined cheerleading.
When did you realise you had fallen in love with this sport
I realised I had fallen in love with the sport at my first national competition, everyone was so friendly especially from other teams I made friends with people from all over the UK which was a thing I never had in dance. The competition was the scariest thing I had done I was so nervous but then having a team talk and knowing that we were all in the performance together was a calming feeling.
What’s your favourite cheerleading uniform you have worn throughout the years?
My favourite cheerleading uniform would have to be Aviator All-stars Aces uniform from Varsity. The amount of sparkle and overall bling on that uniform is just incredible and everyone knows in cheerleading sparkle is everything. Alongside the sparkle the quality and overall fit of the uniform is perfect which just makes me feel so ready to perform at competitions.
Last season you went to ECC what was that experience like
ECC is my favourite competition of the season, it is a competition which is in a theme park in Germany and the best teams in Europe compete there. The talent is unbelievable at this competition and many of the teams the world has never heard of which makes it even more amazing. I have competed at this competition for 6 years and it just gets better and better. We have had many 1st places at this competition and recently we came 3rd in a challenging division but still earning ourselves a Worlds 2017 bid. Overall the experience is amazing, urban stunting around the park with people from all over Europe and getting to go on all the crazy rides in the park before & after competing. What more could you want from a competition?
What’s has been your biggest achievement in cheer to date
For me my biggest achievement was getting shortlisted and making Team England for a second time. The first year in 2014 wasn’t a good one for me, I had no confidence I wasn’t very good at taking criticism and I generally found it very difficult. So i tried hard to succeed as well as I could provide the obstacles I faced and we ended up coming 5th in the world. I then thought to take a year out of Team England and focus on my confidence and how to build myself to be a better athlete. In my year out I worked on my skills, coaching and also just general confidence. Then after working hard on myself and focusing I made the shortlist for Team England 2015/2016 and that was such an achievement. Practice by practice surrounded by some of the most incredible athletes in the UK giving you tips and compliments on progressions. It was a tough journey for the team in general but, we prayed for each other and really fought hard to hit the best run we had ever done.. And we did it! Even more so we made history by being the first medal winners. That’s my biggest achievement. Not only the medal but the comeback from 2014 to 2016.
What’s your favourite part of a routine
My favourite part of the routine is baskets and dance. Baskets are so fun and you get to fly through the air whilst doing some awesome skills they are such an adrenaline rush and are always epic to watch. Dance is another section which is my favourite as I love showing the sass and working it out on the mat.
What motivated you to become a cheerleading Coach?
I have been such a successful athlete and had the opportunity to do some amazing things as an athlete, so as I got older I began to think how I could give back and really help people to achieve and experience some of the things I have had the chance to. This is when I decided to become a coach, I have coached for about 3 years now and I have coached Youth Level 1 this for me is an awesome age as I get to build up right from the beginning. Seeing the kids achieve skills and grow together definitely motivates me day by day to continue being a coach.
What’s your greatest achievement as a coach
My greatest achievement as a coach is for my kids hit zero at every competition last season. My mind set as a coach is regardless of the level hitting zero at every competition is absolutely amazing and this is what my kids achieved. They fought through some tough things this season, athletes leaving people getting hurt but at the same time they still went and achieved some absolutely amazing things for the whole season.
You have attended Worlds many times which has been your favourite experience and why?
I think it goes without saying my favourite experience was Worlds 2016 with Team England. This team definitely worked so hard to get the placement we did and coming back with a bronze medal was historical for UK cheerleading. I was selected to be on the team with the UK’s best, training alongside so much talent is a motivator every session. The coaches were amazing pushing us to achieve success but also the things they arranged for us I am forever thankful. Sponsorship for exactly is not something that is easily organised in the UK but having so many big sponsors pushed us all knowing that they believe in us and supported us on our journey to Worlds.
So many athletes have mental blocks do you and if so how did you get over it.
I luckily have never had a mental block towards a skill. But I have worked and experienced athletes who do. My overall advice for anyone who is suffering from a mental block is to take it back down to basics and work yourself back up to the skill you once were scared of. When I say basics I mean all the way down to a handstand or forward rolls this then gives you the confidence and added confidence as you are working towards it again.
What skill are you working on next?
My skill that I am working on now is a running full and standing tumbling to a full. For next season my goal is to be able to compete a full in a competition routine all season.
Who has been your biggest influence in the Cheer community?
In terms of influences within the cheer world I have numerous which I constantly work closely with in order for me to be successful in cheerleading. But my influence would be Rebecca Hollis and the Team England coaches. At the beginning and throughout the season I struggled with my confidence in the air and really did need help when it came to this. Rebecca Hollis took time to assist me with this and give me some opportunities to enhance my confidence, she is also a person who is always there to listen and give me the honest advice which will help and benefit me the best it can. The Team England coaches pushed me and influenced me to be the athlete I am today from 2014 to 2016 I am a completely different athlete mentally and physically so I honestly cannot thank them enough. Tori, Amanda, Sarah, Angela and Rachel all influenced me in different ways which would better me as a person and an athlete.
Do you use any of the skills you have learnt in cheer in your everyday life
Of Course! In life working as a team and listening to others is an essential, whether that be at work a different sport or in education. Cheerleading helped me get the job I have now and the passion I have for sport, it brought me out of my shell and gain so many vital social skills I need to be able to succeed in life.
Lastly what is your favourite UK Cheer team ( apart from the team you are on) and your favourite non UK cheer team and why?
My favourite UK team would have to be Ascension Eagles. When I first started cheerleading they were leading our country with their incredible level 5 team Legacy. The name explains everything, from level 1 all the way to level 5 their athletes were and still are the most humble, sassy and talented in the UK industry.
My non UK cheer team has to be Brandon All-stars Senior Black. Ever since stepping into their gym in 2012 i have loved this team, the overall family experience the coaches and of course there sheer talent. They have had some rough performances at worlds but come back fighting every year and this year everyone saw the true definition of determination. They came to win and they did.
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