CFHTT interview with Para Pom athlete Rachel Berenson-Perkins aka RBP

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Name: Rachel Berenson-Perkins (known as RBP)

Which Team: Team England Para Cheer Freestyle Pom

Disability: Not disabled

Age: 32

Career/Job: Program Director – Superstars Cheer , Training and Development Manager – Cheerobics(R) and USASF Safety judge.

Share something that makes you happy: Writing while looking out at the beach and listening to the waves. Also ‘holding a foot’ aka basing a stunt.

Share something most people don’t know about you: Most people don’t know I’m American.  I have dual citizenship for both Britain and the US.

How many years’ cheer/dance experience do you have? Dance & Performance – 27yrs.  Cheer – 13yrs.

Which cheer/dance teams are you part of or have you been part of in the past? Superstars since 2009 along with Inferno, RLS Elite, BCA Allstars, Zoo and RH Tomcats.  I’ve also coached a season each with Swansea Sirens and Goldsmiths (Fe)lions.

Why did you want to join Team England ParaCheer/Pom? It was an incredible opportunity to be part of an important evolution of our sport and at the same time represent our country.  I attended try outs for the experience of working with all these people (not fully believing I would be able to earn a spot).

17966388_10100575760599950_8609619296261133256_oWhat’s your favourite part of being on Team England ParaCheer/Pom? The people and all the great times we have together. We’re always laughing and having fun, even when we’re working so hard we’re in pain.

Are there any stunt/technique adaptations you make which you find especially interesting? As both a coach and team mate I’ve loved learning how to adapt what I do in choreography and partner work to better include disabled athletes. Footwork and partnering grips in particular for pom and the change to the centre of gravity for certain stunts.

What have you learnt while being a part of this team? That I’m old!  But importantly that disability shouldn’t be a barrier to elite sport.  I feel like our teams perform at a higher level than many would expect.  It’s exciting to know that as knowledge of and belief in the division grows, England and all other national teams will be right up their next to the historical divisions, holding their own.

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What are you most excited to experience at Worlds 2017? It will be my first time at Worlds so I just hope to really experience it and take it all in.  I’m looking forward to connecting with athletes from other countries and of course, stepping out onto that floor with ENGLAND on my chest and doing my best to make everyone back home proud.

Anything else you want to share? I think there are still many people out there who don’t realise that Para Cheer and Pom could be for them.  I would recommend this experience to everyone. Whether disabled or non-disabled, if you love to dance or cheer – try out this summer! Even the time spent working with athletes and coaches at try outs was a great experience and you could be part of forging England’s legacy at Worlds 2018!

Rachel we wish you all the best as you take to the Worlds floor representing the UK in Para Pom.

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