A Month Of 1st’s for The Firebirds

The first external training session for Heatwave & Ignite and the first showcase for Inferno as well as a surprise for the team!

Hello!

We are Emily (this year’s Treasurer) and Megan (this year’s Secretary) and it is our second year on the Firebirds team for both of us!

Emily Treasure and Megan secretary

Here is a little insight into what are job roles consist of and how we support the team through these committee positions:

The role of a treasurer is to manage the clubs’ finances, so I collect subs from all athletes and then go on to spend it on exciting things such as bows, uniforms, and training for the team. The role of a Secretary involves a lot of organisation and admin tasks such as planning committee meetings and recording anything discussed so we as a committee can support the team to our full extent.    

Catch up with what us Firebirds have been up to recently!

Each training season, the Firebirds team has the opportunity to go to an external training venue as our university gym does not have a full-sized sprung floor. Therefore, we go to Unity HQ (UHQ), a large gym with sprung floor and tumble tracks specifically set up and kitted out for cheerleaders. We go there on average about once a month from December to March so we can gain full exposure to how the routine may feel at competition. There we get to do our full outs and perform to our full extent!!

Training at unity allstars gym

We went to our first session at UHQ on the 11th of December.

It is always so intimidating going there and watching all the all-star teams training.

The UHQ sessions are very intense, we don’t often get long on the mat and therefore we have to make the most of the time we have.

This first session of the season at UHQ always feels very hectic, as for many of our athletes it is their first opportunity to run the routine on a full-sized sprung floor. However, it is so amazing to see the progress and hard work finally coming together.

The growth of the team really comes to light at this point in the season, all the effort put in by our coach Libby and external coach Naomi definitely does not go unnoticed. Going to UHQ creates a real buzz within the teams and is a chance to really show everyone’s full abilities and talent. It is also a great chance for both teams to support each other and really bring the atmosphere and mat talk alive!

The main goal for our first session was perfecting the spacing of our routine. Starting with the opening section, working through main stunt, jumps through to tumbles for our tumble Level 1 team Heatwave and then onto the all-time favourite yet energy demanding – pyramid.

It is a very meticulous process but so important to ensure each section flows effortlessly into the next with the hope the overall visual appearance and aesthetic will wow the audience and judges. At this point in the season, we do not have our dance section yet, but once that is choreographed, we would also need to sort spacing for it. We were given our music the Thursday before UHQ which is SO EXCITING because it meant we got to do run throughs with our very own music meaning we could really bring the enthusiasm and energy to the floor – the feeling was electric.

For a few of the team members that cross over onto both Level 1 and Level 2 teams (known as “crossovers”) the three-hour UHQ session is really tough and strenuous. It is very physically demanding but is also so rewarding to see the progress and development of both teams who are being equally challenged in both levels for different reasons. Both of us are crossovers, Megan as a flyer on both teams and Emily as a base for Level 2 and a back spot for Level 1. We can both agree that each team has its challenges but when it comes to solving these challenges everyone remains on board with the main target which is perfecting the routine to put on a great show.

Both of us started with Firebirds last year and we can already see the massive amount of progress between this time last year and this year. We can vividly remember our first UHQ with Heatwave last year and feeling so lost and underprepared but this year it has been so much better. The stunts we are putting forward this year are far more complex and yet are being picked up much quicker and efficiently than last year’s easier stunts. We are also honoured enough as to have some ex-Firebirds return for this season which is so exciting to see.

Here are some testimonies from Myah (Level 1 Base) and Georgia (Level 2 Backspot) so you can get an insight into what being on the Firebirds teams are really like:

Myah

Cheerleader Myah

“I’m Myah, I study Paramedic Science and I am a fresher base in the Firebirds Level 1 stunt team. For me, I found the first UHQ training session really exciting as I had never performed on a sprung floor before – it was definitely a weird feeling. The session was about allowing us as a team to make sure that our spacing and stunts were correct on the larger floor. As well as giving us a chance to get a feel for how each of the sections would look through marking routines as well as full outs, especially now that we know what music that the routine will be to. It was also really nice to train somewhere other than uni as a team, it definitely made the thought of performing in competitions in 2023 more real!”

– Myah Paramedic Science first year

Georgia

Athlete geogira

“Hi, I’m Georgia a first-year Paramedic Science student. In December I joined the rest of the Firebirds for our first UHQ training session this year. Initially it was very daunting to try and work out things such as spacing in this session on the different mats but as a team we all joined together to get there. It was amazing to be able to finally start to see the routine start to come together even more and to be on a sprung floor! Training in this session made me even more excited for the season ahead of us and to see us all continue to work together and build on the friendships already made!”

Georgie Paramedic Science first year

New Pom Uniforms for Inferno and an upcoming showcase!

The pom team Inferno has also been doing some incredible things. The team will be going to a showcase at the end of January to show off all the skills they have developed so far and their incredible routine choreographed by their coach Ellie Buck. Before Christmas, the girls all received a huge surprise which greeted them at the start of their penultimate session before Christmas… an arrangement of glimmer and glitter was placed in a heart shape on the floor. You guessed it, their uniform and bows for the season were ready!

The cheerleading team getting their new bows and uniform

We cannot wait to see Ellie’s vision of the routine executed onto a large floor and brought to light by the pom girls. We are sending all the Firebird love to the floor for their upcoming performance.

 Here is a testimony from Alice on her time on the pom team so far.

Alice

“Hi, my name is Alice and I am a third-year Paramedic student. Taking up pom has been a fun challenge for me as I wanted to try a style of cheer more similar to dance. Since October we have learnt how to turn, jump and definitely bring the sass. Building on our routine each week brings a lot of fast paced choreography, but we can look back and feel proud of how far we’ve come since week one.” – Alice

Alice Third -year Paramedic

As you can see our busy cheer life means our Christmas break is well deserved but we are so excited to come back in January and work towards the best routine for competition season. We cannot wait to show you what else we get up to in the upcoming months as competition season gets closer day by day.

Until next month guys

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Get to know SGSU Firebirds!

Hello, we are St George’s Firebirds! We’re the UK’s only Healthcare Specialist University Cheer Team.

As a healthcare university we pride ourselves on the following strong values, running throughout our three
teams, which embraces inclusivity, familism and teamwork.


This year our Pom Team, Inferno and Level 2 non-tumble team, Ignite, united with our original Level 1
tumble team Heatwave. All these teams are set to compete this season on mat – it’s a big year of growth
for the Firebirds.
Each month two committee members from SGSU Firebirds will write the monthly diary entries to ensure
you are kept up to date on what the Firebirds have been up to!
So, without further ado let’s get to know the Firebirds 22/23 committee.

To start our first diary entry, we thought after you have got to know the committee what better way to introduce you to the team by us telling you about what we as Firebirds are all about and recent events we have been up to!

The SGSU Firebird committee 2022-2023

Lily


Hi, I am Lily and I am the Firebirds President this season. I began my cheerleading journey two years ago
when I joined a varsity team in my hometown after giving up acrobatic gymnastics which I had
competed in from the age of four. I decided it was time to try something new. As I joined university
away from home, I wanted to continue my fitness and exercise and was instantly, having also been a
dancer, drawn to the idea of cheerleading. Soon seniors on the team took me under their wing and
supported me not only through cheerleading by also academically and this resulted in me making some
of my best friends through the Firebirds. Being in my second year of university and studying Therapeutic
Radiography cheer is very important to me as it is a way, I can rest from studying and find time to
socialize. I am very excited and honored to be Firebirds President this season with our team growing this
year to me it’s important we remain just as close as a team and the bonds between the teams remain.
Supporting each other not only physically through cheering but also mentally is very important to us
Firebirds. Bring on season 22/23!

Adam


Hi! My name is Adam, and I am the Captain of The SGSU Firebirds. I am a 3rd-year medical student here
at St. George’s, and the experience of training and performing with this group of inspiring women and
men has been unbelievable. No matter your age, gender, style, skills – this team has created an
environment where everyone can express themselves and show what they’re made of. It’s my job to
help boost our athlete’s confidence in themselves, focus their efforts and attention during training, and
help our coaches get their vision for the team across. This is only my second year in Cheer, so it’s a huge
privilege to be part of the team and I’m excited for what we can achieve this competition season.

Libby


Hi everyone! I’m Libby and I’m the head cheer coach (I oversee Heatwave and Ignite). This is my 3rd year
coaching for Firebirds, and I really think this is going to be our best season yet!
Alongside coaching our lovely cheer teams, I also study medicine and am in my 4th year.
I have previously competed as an allstar cheerleader for nearly a decade with ICE athletics and Unity
Allstars, but have taken a step back as an athlete this season to focus more on coaching!
My goal for this season is to give both of my teams exciting and visually pleasing routines to make the
crowd say “wow”. The level of talent we have on our cheer teams is higher than we have ever seen, and
I am so excited to see what they can achieve!

Ellie


Hello, my name is Ellie I am a final year medical student. I am the Head Coach of Inferno, our pom team.
My role includes choreographing a routine, leading training sessions as well as designing bows and
uniforms. I have been part of the Firebirds since I started at St George’s (6 wonderful years ago). I have
also been part of committee for 4 of these years including roles such as the president and treasurer. I
love this team, and the family I have found and I’m so excited to spend my final year coaching. This is
Inferno’s first competitive season, and I want our debut to be flaming hot and to finish my Firebird
career with a bang! I’m so proud of how the Firebirds have grown over the past six years and I’m proud
to be part of that journey by introducing Inferno to the cheer community!

Emily


Heya, my name is Emily, I am a 3rd year Bsc Biomedical science student and I’m the treasurer for the
Firebirds this year. My role is taking care of anything to do with money, including collecting subs and
paying for merch and uniforms. This is only my second year on the team but I absolutely love it, it really
is like having a family away from home. I am on the Level 1 team as the shortest back spot and the Level
2 team as a base. This season I’m hoping to win a few competitions but more importantly to put out the
best routine on the mat that we can. I want to walk off the mat and feel proud of our achievement as a
team.

Megan


Hi I’m Megan and I’m a third year medical student. I am the secretary for this year and it’s my second
year as part of the Firebird family!
My role as secretary includes a lot of organization and admin tasks such as planning committee
meetings and keeping note of anything discussed. I can’t wait to see what this new year brings for us as
a committee and team.
This year I am a flyer for both the level 1 and level 2 teams which is a huge privilege. This year especially
I can really see the determination and strength from everyone on the team and I can’t wait to have the
best season yet! My goal for this season is to continue making the society feel inclusive and welcoming
to all members, Firebirds have really shaped my time at uni and I hope I can do the same back.

Aurora


Hi my name’s Aurora and I am a 1st year BSc Clinical Pharmacology student, and I am the Assistant
Coach for Firebirds this year. In this role I help teach the team new skills and give ideas to help and
support with the choreography.
I have previously competed at Kobika star lites, TCA, Chiltern Cheetahs and am currently a member of
Unity allstars Smoke (level 4 NT) and am excited to start coaching.
This is my first year on Firebirds and also on the committee and I am already loving it. As this is my first
season coaching my goal is to make sure everyone becomes the best cheerleaders they can be, have fun
and maybe even bring home a win.

Isobel


Hi my name’s Izzy. After being made to feel so welcome into the Firebirds last season I returned to the
team this year as one of the Social Secretaries to help build bonds within the team with fun socials. I
hope the friendships created at these events will help us put out an amazing performance at comp
where everyone enjoys themselves and smashes their routine.

Lauren


Hi I’m Lauren and I’m one of the social secs. Along with another social sec, we put on socials every week
to help bring all three teams together and for everyone to have a bit of fun. I am a second year med and
this is my second year on the team This year I hope all teams form life long friendships through cheer
and the socials and allow the team to grow stronger so we can all put our best performances out at
completions.

Leonie


Hey, my name is Leonie and I am the Wellbeing Officer for the Firebirds. I’m the person to turn to when
someone in the society has a problem or any worries. I aim to be someone to listen and support each
member of the team whenever they need. This is my second year with the firebirds, and my second-year
cheering (my background is gymnastics). I am a base and tumbler on the level 1 team and love it! This
year I want to help perform the best possible routine we can and to make some amazing memories
together as a team.

Veronika


Hey my name is Veronika and this year I am the Fitness Secretary for the Firebirds. I am a second year
uni student studying BSc Clinical Pharmacology, meaning it’s my second year with the Firebirds and my
first year on committee.
My role is to work in partnership with our lovely Gymnastics Secretary to ensure our teams are
competition ready with their skills! We hold a weekly additional training session where all 3 teams are
welcome and this makes a great environment to meet other teammates that you perhaps wouldn’t see
as much otherwise.
So far we have focused on stamina, strength and conditioning in jumps, and flexibility. We have also
held some fun themed sessions. One example was our joint yoga session with the Football society!
My goal for this year is for all our teams to smash their routines on the comp floor and hit ZERO. I want
everyone to walk off knowing they did their utmost best and possibly even take home a win!

Simona


Hey my name is Simona! I’m a 2nd paramedic science student and I am the Gymnastics sec this year for
the SGSU firebirds. In my role I work closely with the fitness sec to ensure the team has the best fitness
level and gymnastics technique possible for competitions. This is only my second year on the team but
the firebirds are just like family and made me feel welcome from day one. This year for the team I would
love to see more team members finding their confidence with tumbling and improving our stamina so
we can smash out our routines and hopefully hit zero on the comp floor!

Mae


Hello! My name is Mae, I’m a final year medical student. I am the tour secretary this year. I am
responsible for organizing tour and making sure everyone has an amazing time when we’re away!
I have been on the team for all my 6 years at university. This year I really want to make sure this tour is
one to remember.
Being part of the society has really made my time at university such an incredible, accepting and happy
experience. Full of incredible friendships and good times. I know when I go to training my day will be a
little bit brighter and for that I’m always grateful.

Who we are and what we are all about!

With the start of the season kicking off with many socials and chances for the teams to get to know one another our amazing social secretaries Isobel Preece and Lauren Body have written our December diary entry.

Hi, we are Isobel and Lauren, and we are this year’s Social Secretaries!

Right from the start Firebirds have been built on the mindset of inclusivity, with this being written in to the constitution and that everyone who tries-out, makes a team.

The team has a large age range with the university consisting of 30% graduates with our teams’ ages ranging from 18 to 30 years old. Furthermore, both Heatwave and Ignite are co-ed teams and consist of students taking a wide range of courses within healthcare including Medicine, Paramedic Science, Clinical Pharmacology, Biomedicine, Therapeutic Radiography, Diagnostic Radiography and Physiotherapy.

In addition, our committee consists of members from First to Fifth Year, so we can be sure that the entire team’s voice is heard and appreciated.

Teamwork plays an obvious role in all cheerleading teams, but Firebirds go further by extending beyond the mat. We not only support each other through training and stunts but also academically and emotionally.

Our mat talk isn’t just exclusive to the gym and instead is projected through all aspects of our life, socials and our degrees. It’s also reflected in our academic performance with all Firebirds excelling on and off the mat.

As a team when it comes so getting support from our student union given that we are one of the biggest societies at St.Georges our SU pay a portion of our costs and as well as this promotes us on their website and social media.

Family and belonging are the pinnacle of SGULs values and is mirrored by us as Firebirds.

Our university has a scheme in which First Year students (Fresher’s) are taken under the wings of senior Firebird students within a family program.

The family Turner was founded by our devoted Pom Coach, Ellie Buck, and all aspiring Firebirds are adopted in concordance. This has been extremely well received with First Year students quoting Turner and the Firebirds family as their main line of support throughout any struggles during university. 

In Freshers’ week, a social event is held within each family encouraging bridges to form between family members – something attributed to our unbreakable bonds.

With the three teams, naturally there are different training times and speculation may allude to divides, however, we ensure weekly socials are maintained, where the entire Firebirds family can gather and get to know one another in more depth.

One of our most treasured socials this year had been pub golf. This is an annual classic occasion where all of the team gets together for some friendly competition. A special shout-out goes to the winners this year! Other socials of note have been UH night where all London medical school sports teams get paired-up and go for a curry, then eventually ending the night at Clapham’s renowned ‘Infernos’ club. This year we were lucky enough to be paired with Kings College London’s cricket team and Imperial College’s tennis team.

A new addition to this years’ calendar was the Pride Circles event. This was such a fun and enjoyable event and we are so incredibly proud of how many people came to support this activity. Other events included Halloween Sharks and Lifeguard’s Circles and 101 Dalmatian’s Fresher’s Circles which started the academic year off and was a great way to get to know members of the team.

We also organize non-drinking socials as we recognize not everything needs to revolve around alcohol and making sure everyone has the opportunity to be involved, our most recent event has been our annual Christmas dinner, which was great fun to enjoy together.

Until next month guys

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Dealing with an Overwhelming Schedule

We’re currently in that weird warp where December seems to be over in a blink, which is weirdly
followed by January which seems to go on forever. When life seems to be going a million miles an
hour, it can feel difficult to manage which can make us feel stressed and overwhelmed.

Some of us may be balancing work, study, family commitments, health issues, social lives and of course cheer.
And when it comes to cheer it’s not just turning up for an hour a week, it’s the travel to and from,
we could be coaching too, additional classes, socials, comps. It’s a lot!

Carrying a heavy rock

Sometimes when things feel overwhelming, we look to see what we can give up. We can’t stop working, we can’t stop our family
commitments, so we sometimes turn to cheer. But usually, that first thing we think to give up on is
the thing that helps us get by.

Cheer can definitely add to the stress sometimes, I know that, but cheerleading, sport, and physical activity can be a great source of comfort for our wellbeing. The very act of physical activity can help our body’s let loose, deal with the stress, and also provides
those feel good endorphins that make things feel that bit better.


If you’ve been feeling this way, you’re not a terrible person, you’re not terribly disorganised and
you’re certainly not alone. Life has a (not so) funny way of throwing curveballs just when we need
them the least. I’m a big list person, and when things got too heavy for me, I wrote a list of all the
responsibilities I had. From work, uni, my dog, wedding planning, cheer, other hobbies, writing blog
articles, family, social life, the lot. Once I wrote them all out and saw in black and white what I was
juggling, I realised it was quite a long list.

Then, when I showed it to someone close to me who was somewhat objective, they were able to see it differently to me and said it was just too much.

Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels.com


What I did next, was rank these responsibilities as the negotiables, and the non-negotiables.

The non-negotiables for me were things like my job and caring for my dog. These are the things that you
absolutely cannot live without. If I quit my job, I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills, or pay for anything
else on the list. Another example could be looking after family if you have caring needs. It’s difficult
to list examples, because I imagine this will be so different for everyone.

Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com


I then had two levels of negotiables.

Firstly, were the negotiables where I have a responsibility and
most likely deadlines to adhere to (like being on a cheer team, wedding planning, university). And
the final category is the slightly more negotiable-negotiables. These were things like my social life.
Whilst having a social life is important for a number of reasons, this, for me, is the easiest thing to
drop without repercussions. Again, this will be different for everyone.


I’m getting dizzy with the number of times I’ve used the word “negotiable”, but basically, I ranked all
my responsibilities to the most important to potentially the least. Now that list might change
depending on what time of year it is, what time in the season it is, and generally what you have
going on at any one time. The ranking was really tricky, and it felt really uncomfortable. As we know,
sometimes it’s the most uncomfortable things in life that help us grow the most. Alongside ranking
them by importance, I then did a second list ranking them on the amount of time I currently put
towards each of those responsibilities. Realistically you would think the most important has the
most time spent on it, and the least important has the least time spent on it. But what you realise in
doing this task is that it’s usually the things in the middle that take up the most of your time, or you
spend most your time on. And that can sometimes be why life feels so unmanageable, because the
things that are most important in your life, or the non-negotiables, aren’t getting enough time to be
satisfied. If you don’t already use a diary, it can be an absolute game changer. Again, it helps to block
out your time using different colours for different responsibilities. That’ll give you a good idea again
how much time you’re spending on each of your responsibilities and if it’s reflective of what’s truly
required.

Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

I’d invite you to try this out if you haven’t already. At the very least it’ll help you understand just how
many responsibilities you have and may help you give yourself a break. If you really are doing too
much, it might be time to let go of something. Everything might seem super important, but what’s
most important is you, your health and your wellbeing. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Looking
after number one isn’t selfish, it’s actually selfless. Think about it. If you’re so stressed both
emotionally and physically (because it’ll likely start showing physically), you can’t be there for
others. The only way to be there for the people in your life that may depend on you, is to make sure
you’re looking after yourself first.


If you do lead a busy life, you might want to try and reduce your decision-making. What on earth do I
mean by this?

Well, we only have a finite number of decisions we can make each day before we start
to feel overwhelmed.

Now I go a bit overboard with this, but I make decisions for myself way in
advance so there are some decisions I don’t even think about making anymore.

Firstly, I made a monthly rolling meal plan. I have a 28-day meal plan where I have 28 different dishes (sounds a lot,
but it’s not really) that I’m going to make for tea each day.

I then make enough to have for lunch the next day (I say “I”, it’s usually my partner). This reduces planning of those shopping trips because I
don’t need to think about what I’m going to cook and therefore what I need to buy. I have a similar
plan for my working outfits. I have about 15 outfits (again, sounds a lot, but a lot of these outfits can
be worn in and out of work, include casual, business-casual and formal/social outfits). Each outfit I
put on a hanger in my wardrobe, including underwear to go along with it. When I wake up in the
morning I pick the hanger at the front, and the hanger goes at the back of the rotation at the end of
the day (even if the clothes on the hanger go in the wash). People often look at me like I’m crazy
when I tell them. But I love all my clothes, I don’t own any I don’t like, so I’ll always like my outfit.
And the food plan, I like all the meals in the plan, so I’ll never be disappointed.

Photo by Ella Olsson on Pexels.com


Whenever I start getting stressed and things start piling up and I’m feeling like I’m drowning, I think
about how many decisions I’m making a day. 9 out of 10 times when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’ve
usually let my meal plan or my outfit plan slip, or both. And that’s not to say either one of those is
the reason why I’m stressed, but potentially those extra decisions have amplified everything I have
going on at that moment in time. And I’m not saying these are the keys to success, planning every
aspect of your life to a tee, but have a think if there is anything in your life like this that you could
pre-plan. It might not be having a full month’s meal plan, but how about a week’s worth of meal
planning? You might not want to have a weird outfit plan like me, but you could potentially plan
your outfits out for the week ahead. There may well be other aspects of your life you think you could
bulk plan in advance. It might seem like a big task to begin with, but overtime you’ll save yourself
time, stress and decisions.


Another activity which is always good to do this time of year is a vision board.

Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

If you’re not sure what one is, search it on Pinterest for inspiration or YouTube on how to create one. You can create it with
print outs, online, I’ve even heard of people using them as their screensavers – which have shown to
be really effective. They can be created for each year, 5 years, or 10 years. They’re primarily used for
goal setting, but this can be really helpful to understand your priorities. And once you know what
your goals and priorities are, it’ll help you manage your time and split it accordingly.
I love the phrase, “learn to rest not to quit”. Sometimes things get too much so you need a break.
That doesn’t always mean you should quit, especially if it’s something that brings you joy. Often, it’s
that joy, or the small wins that make you smile during the fog of overwhelm. So, if things are really
getting too much, how about taking a break first, before cutting it out completely? However,

sometimes we do need to take a step away from the things we love. That doesn’t mean you don’t
appreciate that experience. You can absolutely love everyone involved, but it might just be the thing
that’s tipping you over the edge. Those decisions are the absolute hardest.

The first thing is being completely honest with yourself. Some of the activities above may help. Next, you need to be
completely honest with whoever or whatever it is you’re stepping away from. One of the reasons it’s
hard to step away is likely because you feel like you’re letting someone down by stepping away.
Perhaps because you really value this person, they really value you, or hopefully both. But if this
person really cared about you, which I hope they do, they’ll understand that you have to put
yourself first.
Health is wealth people!


One last thing I think is important to remember, is that you never have to go through this alone.


When things creep up on us like this, and it’s difficult to manage your time, talking it through with a trusted friend, family member or even colleague can really help. They can give you that objective opinion and see things differently to you. If you’re surrounded by the right people, they will likely have an idea of what is best for you also.

If you don’t feel like you have anyone to speak to, how about a coach or member of staff at your programme? Is there someone at work you can speak to, a supervisor or manager?

These are things I always talk about in my supervision sessions or meetings with my manager. It might not always be completely work related, but what’s going on in my outside
life will likely affect my work – so it’s all relative. If you find it easier speaking to a stranger, there are
definitely organisations that are ready and waiting to speak to you.

The Mix are great if you’re under 25, Shout are fab, and the Samaritans. Don’t ever think you’re not “bad enough” to receive support.


Preventative steps are always much better than reactive action.

These people and organisations can give you objective, confidential and non-judgemental advice.

From personal experience, as well as working on a Helpline myself, this advice and time can be invaluable.
I really hope you got something out of this article.

The holiday season comes with a number of
stresses and added tasks. But this is relevant throughout the year also. Just remember, the rain can’t
last forever.

Sometimes it’s those difficult decisions that give us the freedom and time we need to
look after ourselves.


However you’re spending the holidays, whether you celebrate or not, I’m sending lots of peace, love
and health your way.
Take care,
Rach x

Written by Rachel

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Ella from Endchoreo helps athletes and coaches achieve their cheer and dance dreams.

Hi, guys this year CFHTT we are honoured to collaborate again with Ella from Endchoreo. Ella

is one of the sponsors of The diary of a university Cheerleader competition. 

Ella choreographed the dance routine for the winner of the diary of a University cheerleader

The Bedfordshire Bulls.

It was an honour to have Ella be a part of the university project. 

Who is Ella Dolcey?

Ella, has a passion for all things cheer and dance and has 15+ years of

experience within this industry. Ella has progressed from an athlete, to a coach of both Allstar and University cheerleading and now is the Gym owner and Head Coach of Crystal Elite.

Ella is also a decorated Cheerleading and Dance judge for multiple UK EPs and is owner of the Cheer Consultancy brand ENDchoreo.

Wow, that’s quite a cv 

CFHTT wanted to know the women behind Crystal Elite and ENDchoreo and to better understand what has made her a fundamental part of the UK cheer community.

 How did you start cheerleading? 

I began dance at the age of 4 and gymnastics at the age of 10. In my first week of Secondary school, I saw a bulletin board advertising cheerleading and given my previous sporting experience and that one of my favourite films was ‘Bring it on,’ I decided to attend the tryouts.

From there, I made the team and participated in weekly 90 minute classes. At this time cheerleading did not have the current numbered level system, but rankings such as Novice were utilised. We competed at the intermediate level (mixing skills from level 2-3) and when we hit stunts such as extended libs we were pumped!

After two seasons, this school team progressed into an Allstar programme, with other affiliated schools and additional athletes being introduced and I trained on various teams within this programme, on a weekly to monthly basis, in various locations, within London and the South East. A highlight from earliest days of cheerleading was being able to compete in America.

Post America, this programme closed down and given that I now had fallen in love with the sport, I joined Crystals Elite and after being an athlete for a season, I was asked to be a coach for the mini teams.

From here, I left for Loughborough University and was on the All girl Level 4 team in my first year, then an athlete and coach of this same team and their other competitive teams, in my second through to fourth year.  

Throughout university, I kept in touch with Crystals Elite Coaches and after gaining my Masters Degree, they asked if I would be returning to London and if I wanted to coach.

I of course said yes and from there progressed into my role as the Gym Owner and Head Coach.

How did ENDchoreo start?

There are multiple different aspects of our Sport which can be hard to navigate and some of these include, choreographing sections of a routine and understanding the scoresheet.

Prior to ENDchoreo, I was helping some of my industry friends in an unofficial capacity on these elements. But with more time made available within the pandemic, I decided to officially launch. I am often asked how did I come up with the name and simply END is an Acronym for my full name.

Ella from Endchoreo working with 2021 CFHTT winner of The Diary Of A University Cheerleader team the Bedfordshire Bulls cheerleader

What Services does ENDchoreo provide?

I provide a variety of services depending on what the Coach, team, or programme needs. These could be virtual elements, such as routine reviews or Coaches’ Consults. Or these could be in person ENDchoreo Camps.

Within an ENDchoreo camp, I may upgrade a routine that a coach has already choreographed or create and teach an entire routine from start to finish.

Within these both, I will examine what can the team already do well and then I will create elements that can help the team to better hit the scoresheet, such as advancing the degree of difficulty on building and tumbles, or adding in unique transitional elements and choreography.

Then, I run skills camps across both Cheer and Dance, whether it’s on Elite stunts within a certain level, tumble skills such as whips and layouts, or dance styles such as pom or associated technical elements, such as Leaps and turns. 

Overall, through ENDchoreo I really try and understand what the client is looking to achieve when they get into contact with me. I draw upon on my time spent as an athlete, coach and judge, take into consideration the ever present changes within our industry and from there create something that will enable the recipient to have learnt something new or aided progression.

What your ultimate goal with judging?

I have been fortunate to judge for various UK EPs for multiple seasons and have progressed to both a Head Judge, plus Judging and Scoring manager and the next step is to judge for more international EPs.

What tips would you give to coaches who find scoresheets very confusing?

Scoresheets can prove challenging as there are various changes each season and they may differ between EPs. To combat this, ask for help! There are often affordable courses which discuss elements of the scoresheets, these have been made more accessible recently, as many are now virtual and they can provide great insight.

If people want to contact you, how can they do so?

I can be reached via email endchoreo@gmail.com or on the social media platforms (Facebook and Instagram) via my handle @endchoreo

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Competition for 2022-2023 cheer season

2ndOctober2022ICEDance FusionThe john Bunyan centre NK429TSBedfor­­­d ­
5th – 6thNovember2022Cheer CityAutumn AdventureFenton ManorStoke­- on Trent
6th DANCENovember2022ICEDance FeverThe hub collegeWest Midlands
 20thNovember2022Future CheerJungle FeverBolton ArenaBolton
20thNovember2022SoarGlasgow
26th Summit bids available: up to 5 Dance and up to 5 Cheer bidsNovember2022Future CheerFC Brings it On: FestiveDisneyland ParisParis
27thNovember2022ICEDance FuryEbbw Vale Sport centre NP236GLEbbw Vale
3rd – 4thDecember2022Future CheerWinter WonderlandEssex UniversityColchester
10th – 11thDecember2022ICEChristmas ICE BreakerFenton ManorStoke on Trent
10th – 11thDecember2022Cheer CityFrost FestivalKettering ArenaKettering
10th – 11thDecember2022BCAWinter WeekenderWinter Gardens BlackpoolBlackpool
14th Levels 1-3 only, all dance divisionsJanuary2023Future CheerFC EssentialsK2 Leisure CentreCrawley
21st – 22ndJanuary2023DC12NeonEikon Exhibition CentreNorthern Ireland
28th – 29thJanuary2023ICCNorthen ChampionshipsBECManchester
28th – 29thJanuary2023BCASuper ClassicUniversity Arena, WorcesterWorcester
4th – 5thFebruary2023LegacyStand StrongNorthumbria University Sports Central, NE1 8STNewcastle Upon Tyne
4th – 5thFebruary2023ICCSouthern ChampionshipsGuilford SpectrumGuildford
4th – 5thFebruary2023Cheer CityWinter SpectacularWarwick UniversityWarwick
5thFebruary2023Cheer CityUniversity ShowdownWarwick UniversityWarwick
11th –February2023ICCWestern Cheer & DanceBath & West Show groundShepton
11th – 12thFebruary2023ICEFrost FestAntrim ForumNorthern Ireland
11th – 12thFebruary2023LegacyJust BelieveQueen Elizabeth Olympic Park, E20 3HBLondon
18thFebruary2023Future CheerHeart of EnglandManchester CentralManchester
19thFebruary2023Future CheerUniversity NationalsManchester CentralManchester
24thFebruary2023BCAScottish SensationSEC Armadillo Glasgow Scotland
25thFebruary2023ICCEastern ChampionshipsPeterborough ArenaPeterborough
25th – 26thFebruary2023DC12DC12 Presents: CrusadeHull, East YorkshireNorth England
25th – 26thFebruary2023Cheer CitySpring OpenLeicester Arena Midlands
4th – 5thMarch2023SoarEdinburgh
4th – 5thMarch2023JamfestNorthern JamBlackpool
4th – 5thMarch2023Future CheerCircus SpectacularEIS SheffieldSheffield
11th – 12thMarch2023BCAUniversity NationalsUniversity arena WorcesterWorchester
11th – bid only eventMarch2023BCABCA dance World show downUniversity arena WorcesterWorchester
18th – 19thMarch2023Future CheerSpotlight ShowdownK2 Leisure CentreCrawley
18th – 19thMarch2023ICESpring Thaw OutEbbw Vale Sports CentreEbbw Vale
18th – 19thMarch2023LegacyDream Extreme + Alpha & OmegaResorts World Arena, B40 1PUBirmingham
25th – 26thMarch2023ICCBritish Open & University NationalsMotorpoint ArenaNottingham
       
25th – 26thMarch2023Cheer CityAllstars ChampionshipNottingham Wildcats ArenaNottingham
1st – 2ndApril2023DC12DC12 Presents: APEX – Nationals 2023Motorpoint aera Wales
1st – 2ndApril2023BCASpring SpiritK2 CrawleyCrawley
1st
1st Summit bids available: up to 5 Dance and up to 5 Cheer bids
April2023Future CheerFC AmsterdamAmsterdam
15-16thApril2023Future CheerFC Adventure in Atlantis Milton Keynes
8th – 9thApril2023DC12 DC12 Presents: IllusionMighty RegionalsGlasgow Royal
concert hall
Glasgow
6th – 7thMay2023Future CheerGateway to the GalaxyEIS SheffieldSheffield
13th – 14thMay=2023Cheer CitySummer ShowdownWarwick UniversityWarwick
13th – 14thMay2023ICEICE BlastK2 Leisure CentreCrawley
21stMay2023ICELet’s DanceEbbw Vale Sports CentreEbbw Vale
20th – 21stMay2023Cheer CitySummer GamesHertfordshire Sports VillageHertfordshire
  27-28th Summit bids available: up to 5 Dance and up to 5 Cheer bidsMay2023Future CheerSuperhero SpiritBraeheadGlasgow
27th – 28th bid eventMay2023BCAAllstar NationalsTelford internationalTelford
27th-28th Free bid only eventMay2023BCAChampions ChallengeTelford internationalTelford
27th – 28thMay2023ICESummer MeltdownDoncaster DomeDoncaster
3- 4th June2023BCABCA Summer spotlightSport central NewcastleNewcastle
24th – 25th June2023BCABCA Summer showdownMeadowbank Sport centre Edinburgh
3rd

Summit bids available: up to 5 Dance and up to 5 Cheer bids
June2023Future CheerFC BarcelonaBarcelona 
3rd – 4thJune2023DC12DC12 Presents: FiestaNAEC StoneleighKenilworth  
10thJune2023Future CheerInto the FutureBrighton CentreBrighton
10-11thJune2023ICEICE big chillBush field leisure centrePeterborough
10th – 11thJune2023LegacyLive your LegacyResorts World Arena, B40 1PUBrimingham
10th – 11thJune2023ICCSouthern JamGuilford SpectrumGuildford
10th – 11thJune2023ICEThe Big ChillBushfield Leisure CentrePeterborough
16th – 18thJune2023JamfestJamfest EuropeExhibition CentreLiverpool
17th – 18thJune2023ICESub ZeroRavenscraigScotland
24th – 25thJune2023ICEICE ChampionshipsFenton ManorStoke on Trent
23rdJune2023Future CheerFC school out for summerBICBournemouth
23-25thJune2023Future CheerFC InternationalsBICBournemouth
17-18thJune2023Cheer CityNationalsLoughborough Midlands
1stJuly2023ICCBattle of the ChampionsMotorpoint ArenaNottingham
2ndJuly2023ICCBritish Open Pt 2Motorpoint ArenaNottingham
8&9th July– 2032ICEUDE ChampionshipThe hub collgeWalsall
15thJuly2023ICCSummer JamBowlers Exhibition CentreManchester
8&9thJuly2023BCAChampion Challenge TBCTBC
June 30 – July 2,2023Jamfest JAMfest EuropeM&S Bank Arena LiverpoolLiverpool

Competition for UKCA

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How to deal with disappointment

We’re fresh into a new season now, even the uni teams are up and running.

The start of the season is so full hope, ambition and excitement for what is to come. You may be on your first cheer team, your dream cheer team, a team competing internationally for the first time, a team with your best friends, or you may still be feeling slightly disappointed by your team placement. Whatever your circumstance, your feelings are totally valid. In this article, we’re going to explore how you can deal with disappointment, how you can move forwards without feeling so down in the dumps.

Firstly, it’s important to remember that feeling disappointed or rejected is a totally normal human response and experience

Photo by Kat Smith on Pexels.com

. It’s important for us recognise that in life there will be peaks and troughs, ups and downs. And so it’s about celebrating and making the most of the wins, whilst observing the losses and learning from them. We likely learn much more from our 2nd placements or even last placements, then we do from the 1st placements and grand champs. That’s the annoying thing about life. Sometimes it feels as though all our losses hit us at the same time. That can feel really heavy, like a metaphorical pyramid falling in cannon. It’s harder to get up and dust yourself off from those kinds of losses or disappointments. Even more in those moments it’s important to remember that balance in life. If you’ve been knocked back 30x in a row, it sounds like your luck should be turning soon!

Photo by Prateek Katyal on Pexels.com

These things are so much easier said than done, I get that.

When you don’t make the team you expected, when you get separated from your friends, when you feel like you worked so hard and have nothing to show for it, it can be super hard to put on a smile, tie up your shoes and walk back in the gym. Every season is met with disappointment for someone. I’ll tell you the same thing I’ve told my teammates every season: think about how much your team changed last season from beginning to end.

For most, people may change position, teams may get re-jigged, someone decides to quit or get moved to another team and that creates room for others.

Who do you think are going to get those new spots? Those that continued to work hard despite not being completely happy with their placement. It’ll go to that athlete that turns up early to training, is wearing the right training gear, always puts in 100%, has a positive attitude as they want to do better.

You’ve got to be in it to win it. Of course, if there’s a specific spot on a Level 4 team, it’s unlikely to go to someone with little experience in that position just because they are nice. But also, that’s not to say it won’t. I’ve seen big leaps in levels in the space of one season, it CAN happen. Hard work never goes unnoticed! But I suppose that’s another thing to remember, levels are just a number.

In saying that, not everyone will move teams each season. You may well be on this team, in this position or experience this disappointment all season long. Then what? Let’s break it down.

Emotional awareness

What exactly are you feeling disappointed by? The position, the level, that you didn’t get moved “up”, that you got moved “down”, you’re not competing at a certain competition, you’re with a different coach, something else? Whatever your disappointment is, why are you feeling disappointed? Is it the opportunities, does it make you feel lonely, embarrassed, did you want that association, something else entirely? Being honest with yourself and understanding your disappointment will allow you to move forward. Once you’ve figured it out for yourself, I’d suggest speaking to someone about it. Sometimes you might feel better first discussing it with someone who doesn’t have that emotional attachment (e.g. if you’re disappointed about something in cheer, maybe speak to someone outside of cheer first). Maybe you do want to speak to a friend, a teammate, a family member.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

Secondly, I’d always recommend speaking to your coach as well.

I’d advise speaking to them second/third/fourth, just because disappointment is an emotion, a normal response to a loss. In my opinion anyway, I think it’s more constructive to have a straight talking conversation with your coach about how you’re feeling disappointed, why you’re disappointed, followed by asking them how you can improve, how you can avoid *this disappointment* next time. Showing emotion is totally fine, it shows you care. I say talk to your coach second because I’d rather you tear up than start shouting at them. Anger and resentment isn’t a key quality a coach is looking for in an athlete. As I mentioned, your emotions are valid, but it’s best to get that out of your system talking WITH friends/family, rather than shouting AT your coach. Think of it like a job. If you get angry with your manager for not giving you the promotion, they’ll be less likely to give it to you next time than if you asked for further support to improve.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

And lastly with that emotional awareness, it comes back to your why. Why does this disappoint you? Let’s use that to set your goals for this upcoming season. You could do that in collaboration with what your coach has advised working on. I’ve done this in the past, and the coach responded by saying “I really appreciate you coming up to me. I’ll get back to you with what you can work on”. Because realistically, you didn’t get on that team not because you were absolutely terrible and there’s a list of a million things your coach can point out that you need to improve, but just because you weren’t quite the right fit, YET.

Manage expectations

Similarly to what I was just discussing, in reflecting on your disappointment and upcoming goals, manage your expectations. If you didn’t get on the Level 4 team because they’re focusing on having a high number of tumblers this season, it might be a bit if a stretch to expect to compete a standing tuck by the end of the season if you’re currently working on a forward roll. That’s an extreme example, but hopefully you see where I’m coming from.-

This may well even be a whole team exercise. You can have you own personal goals alongside your team goals. That includes what all teammates expect of the team, what the coach expects of the team, and what the team expects of the coach. That’ll then help you manage your expectations for the upcoming season. If the teams goals don’t necessarily align with your personal goals, will you need to get additional training in, privates or open gyms? It’s about adopting a solution-based mindset, rather than a problem-based mindset.

Learning experience

Lastly, how can you use this disappointment as a learning experience? Maybe you’ve been on this team for 3 seasons now and feel like you’ve exhausted it completely. Remember, cheerleading isn’t JUST about maxing out tumbling or stunting skills. We gain some much more like friendships, memories, confidence, strength, flexibility, opportunities that you wouldn’t get anywhere else. Can you use this season to focus on one of those areas or even your weakest area? Can you use this season to just purely enjoy the sport, your team and your programme? I’ve been in this situation before, disappointed with my placement. It was following a particularly difficult year so I thought, ok, this isn’t my dream team, even if I don’t make the “dream team” next season, how can I make this season worth something? How can I make the most out of this season? I decided that alongside focusing on my confidence performing, I was going to focus on the friendships and falling back in love with the sport. And I now look back at that season with the fondest memories, it’s probably my favourite season. Being a very competitive person, that did not come naturally to me – focusing on something other than skills. But in reality, we usually do better at the things we love than the things we hate. So I probably improved the most over that season than any other, because I decided to use it as a learning experience.

Photo by APG Graphics on Pexels.com

I’ve mentioned a few times now that feeling down or low in mood following a loss or disappointment is a natural response. And whilst it’s really important we recognise that and allow ourselves to feel this negative emotion; if we we’re constantly feeling negative or low in mood, perhaps we need a little extra support. And that extra support can come from a number of places.

A phrase I often use in work is “if nothing changes, nothing changes”. What I mean by that is, if you’re in a negative mindset, and don’t receive beneficial support, nothing will change and you’ll likely stay in that negative mindset. When our mental health takes a dip, it can feel really difficult to do the once simplistic of tasks. That’s because everything’s weighing us down and everything just feels heavier. If you’ve tried a few strategies and still can’t get out of this headspace, if you’ve spoken to family/friends for support and it’s not helped, if you’ve looked up some self-help tips and it’s not working, or if those don’t sound like viable options, maybe it’s time to have a discussion with someone like your GP, or even a mental health support organisation. A common response I tend to hear is “I’m not bad enough”, or “there are people so much worse off than me”.

My response to them is always, “it’s all relative”. As blunt as it sounds, a man who drowned in the ocean is still just as dead as a man who drowned in a puddle. It’s all relative to the situation. Everyone deserves support in those moments and so I’ll share some organisations you may want to look into for further advice and support – even just on their website if you don’t want to contact them.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

The Mix provide essential advice for 14-25 year olds in a range of topics such as mental health, housing, relationships, drugs and so much more! They have a number of articles online, discussion boards, a telephone advice line and web chat feature.

Call: 0808 808 4994

https://www.themix.org.uk/

Shout is a text service for anyone who is stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, depressed or suicidal. You can contact them 24/7 by texting 85258.

The Samaritans are a well known service for anyone who needs someone to listen. Whilst they do support those experiencing suicidal thoughts, they are a 24/7 listening service, you don’t need to be suicidal to contact them. You can call, chat online, write an email, download their self help app or even write a letter.

Call: 116 123

Email: jo@samaritans.org

That’s all for today’s blog. I hope you got something from it. If there are any topics you’d like us to cover next time, do get in touch!

Take care,

Rach

Written by Rachel

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The Diary of a University Cheerleader : CFHTT competition and Giveaway

Calling all university Teams : CFHTT competition and Giveaway

University cheerleading is a rapidly expanding part of the Cheerleading community and something we celebrate at CFHTT.
The Diary of a University Cheerleader allow current university cheerleaders to document and give a real insight into their experiences as uni cheerleaders.
Each month the winning university will have there Diary entry published on CFHTT social media platform for the world to read.

We also have amazing products and services that you can win from our amazing sponsors

You will win

One set of team bows for one team from Primacy Cheer.

One set of Team T-shirts for one team from 360 Dance and Cheer.

One session with Endchoreo, an industry consultancy business, to help athletes and coaches to achieve their cheer and dance dreams.

One Session with MJ Cheer is a tumbling coach and Team England adaptive abilities expert who’s focused on inclusivity for all so everyone can part take in this sport.

Rules for the competition

This competition is an Instagram competition
To enter the competition, you must
1) have your official university Instagram accounts follow @cheerfromheadtotoeuk,
@primacycheer ,
@endchoreo,
@360danceandcheer
@mjcheer_

2) Share this post on your timeline and Instagram stories making sure you tag @cheerfromheadtotoeuk
3) Leave your favourite emoji on the @cheerfromheadtotoeuk post.
4) Email Cheerfromheadtotoe@gmail.com to confirm your entry.

The winner will be contacted via email, competition ends on October 21th at 5 pm.
GOD Bless

The Diary of a university Cheerleader competition goes live this October join our Facebook group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/621276109608694/discussion/preview

Hi, my name is Caroline, I’m the founder of Cheer From Head To Toe (CFHTT)

University cheerleading is a rapidly expanding part of the Cheerleading community and something we celebrate at CFHTT.

Unfortunately, the university division is still undervalued and underfunded.

This is why I created the competition ” The Diary of a University Cheerleader.”

To allow current university Cheerleaders to give a real insight into their experiences as uni cheerleaders.

Each month the winning university will have their Diary entry published on CFHTT social media platform for the world to read.

The Diary of a university Cheerleader competition goes live this October

I would love for your team to enter.

Please join this Facebook group to be the first to know everything about the competition.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/621276109608694/discussion/preview

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Safeguarding is everyone’s business. Yet I often find we don’t think about it until something bad happens. What is safeguarding in cheerleading?

TRIGGER WARNING: 

This article is going to cover safeguarding and related topics. We’re also going to briefly mention the Whyte Review, the review after the investigation of malpractice within British Gymnastics; and this may trigger or upset those involved in the review or who were aware of the wrongdoings.

If this topic upsets you, you might want to skip this article as your wellbeing is the priority.

If you do decide to read on, there will be some organisations listed throughout who may be able to offer you some support.

In this article we’re going to be discussing what you can do if you are experiencing a safeguarding concern or potential wrongdoing.

To be clear, this is not going to be professional advice for anyone working within a safeguarding role – although I will provide some information on where you can learn more.

Overall, cheerleading is a super positive community. We spend so much time in the gym with our friends, and time away at competitions – our teammates and coaches become our family. We share the best of times and the worst of times with them. I share each month just how much of a positive impact cheerleading has on our lives. But like anything, the sun doesn’t shine forever and there can be some rainy days. Whether that’s an injury, a fall out with a teammate, or something further like bullying, or issues with a coach. Those issues may fall under the umbrella of safeguarding.

Safeguarding is everyone’s business. Yet I often find we don’t think about it until something bad happens. Safeguarding is the action taken to ensure and promote the safety and welfare of children, young people and service users to protect them from harm. That can be health and safety & risk assessment related in terms of things like making sure the floor is level to prevent injury; it could be child protection in terms of things like child abuse and bullying; or maybe everyone’s favourite topic of GDPR and ensuring confidential information stays confidential, and numerous other things.

We’re all human, and sometimes we make mistakes. But that’s why it’s so important that our people in positions of trust are aware of safeguarding protocols and for us stand up for what is right.

One of my earliest articles was on safeguarding, and I felt it timely to write one again following the release of the Whyte Review.

The Whyte Review is an exploration of the alleged wrongdoings and malpractice within British Gymnastics.

We’re a different sport, but we have many overlaps, including our athletes and coaches. As a member of staff who was involved in a very small part of the Whyte Review, it was heartbreaking to hear that so many athletes, who poured their heart into the sport they loved, had their childhood and their dreams ripped away by those who should have been there to support them.

In many cases, these coaches abused their positions of trust, ignored professional and safeguarding legislation with their eye simply on performance and results.

These accounts I was told were all too familiar to my own experiences in the sport, and that’s exactly the reason I transferred to cheerleading as the grass was very much greener on the other side.

It would be ignorant of me to pretend we don’t have those same issues in cheerleading. Unfortunately these bad eggs can crop up. I’ve met a few of them, I’m sure you have too. But we need to make sure that these bad eggs understand that any poor practise or behaviours have no place in cheerleading, and no place in society.

Every programme should have a Designated Safeguarding Lead. Sometimes they’re not called a “Safeguarding Lead”, sometimes it’s a Welfare Officer, Safeguarding Coordinator, Child Protection Officer or a mixture of those terms. Sometimes it’s the head coach/director who acts as a safeguarding lead, and they have that additional role. As well as the role, just as you often sign an athlete code of conduct, your programme should also have a safeguarding policy. Again, this is something people don’t often take notice of until something happens. This safeguarding policy ensures all athletes, coaches and volunteers are protected from harm. It should also have information on what to do if a safeguarding issue arises. Now, every safeguarding policy is likely to be similar, but not identical. So I can’t say for sure what yours looks like, what it includes, and what your safeguarding procedure is.

[That’s why, if you’re a coach/volunteer/member of staff who has a safeguarding or child protection concern about someone at your gym, I won’t tell you what you should do in this article. That depends on the situation entirely. You should, however, immediately inform your safeguarding lead and take the appropriate action. If you’re unsure of the appropriate action, first look at your safeguarding policy, if that doesn’t help, contact the NSPCC Helpline who can talk you through the issues. After the situation is dealt with, get onto the NSPCC Learning website or NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit website to undertake further safeguarding training so that next time, you feel more prepared and empowered to take the appropriate steps.]

From here I’m instead going to take the point of view of an athlete who feels that things aren’t right.

There are MULTIPLE laws and legislations in place to protect the safety and welfare of children and young people. Most of the safeguarding policy will be in relation to children and young people. There’s a reasonable explanation for that, they’re children and it’s their parent/carer/coach’s job to ensure they are safe.

Children & Young People:

If you’re a child/young person and feel like something is off or you’re being treated differently, tell a trusted adult, tell your coach, or if your coach is the issue, tell the person that’s higher up than them – i.e., the safeguarding/welfare officer/head coach/director. They should listen to your concerns in a non-judgemental way and see if there’s anyway in which they can help. It’s completely normal to be nervous to have those conversations. You might worry about what that person will say or do in response to what you have said. But remember, it’s their job to make sure you’re safe. You might not know what will happen if you speak out, but if you don’t, things will likely continue the way they are. To help you, Childline are a really useful resource for anyone 18 and below. They can give you confidential, free advice on the phone or their web chat. Their phone number doesn’t even show up on your phone bill. Google “Childline” or call 0800 11 11.

Adults:

When it comes to adults, that’s where things can get a bit messy, simply because we have adults who are on the same team as children. Those adults on the team aren’t in positions of trust, so they don’t have that professional responsibility to act in the best interest of the children on the team. HOWEVER, fear not, just because that adult on the team doesn’t have a position of trust, they still have their athlete’s code of conduct to adhere to. If they’re behaviours aren’t in line with the code of conduct, it needs reporting to your safeguarding lead. Again, the safeguarding policy should cover this, and if you have any issues, speak to your coach or welfare officer. These staff members/volunteers should listen to your concerns in a non-judgemental way, note them down, perhaps discuss with another member of staff (still confidentially) and either offer you advice or support.

Non-recent Abuse:

Non-recent abuse, previously called historical abuse, is when the experience or incident of abuse happened some time ago and isn’t happening anymore. Often these experiences happened to you as a child. Now if you or someone you know falls into this category and they haven’t reported what happened to them, it is NEVER to late to report, even if the person that did the hurt is no longer alive. There are a million and one reasons why someone didn’t report the incident/experience/abuse when it happened. Unfortunately, there can be a number of barriers in the way (that’s why we need to ensure that everyone is safeguarding aware to act preventatively, and not after the incident has happened). Professionals are very aware of these barriers and will treat your concerns very sensitively and go at your pace.

On a personal level, you need to prioritise your welfare. But on a professional level, if that person is still working with children or people they could continue to abuse, it’s important that information is shared. There are A LOT of questions when it comes to reporting concerns. A useful organisation to help you navigate is NAPAC (the National Association for People Abused in Childhood). If you are still involved in the club/programme where this person still works/volunteers, you may want to speak with your welfare officer. If not, you can have a word with the police – it’s not as scary as they make out on the tele. A good starting point is this video on the NSPCC’s website:

https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-is-child-abuse/types-of-abuse/non-recent-abuse/

Remember, it’s never too late, it wasn’t your fault, and there is ALWAYS support available to you.

Current concerns for an adult:

Ok, but what if I have concerns about an adult in relation to another adult? Raising concerns as an adult is a different process, but there IS still a process. I’d still advise speaking to your coach or welfare officer if you feel able to. However, if you believe the action against you is a crime or form of harassment, the police may best be able to answer your questions. Again, it’s not as scary as the TV makes out. You can either dial 101 and speak to an officer that way, or go into your local police station. You’re not the one accused and they will be very sensitive & empathetic towards your situation.

What are the signs I can look out for?

Unfortunately, that’s a trick question. In terms of professionals looking out for signs of abuse within children, there can be some signs. Ultimately, every child, young person, or adult is unique and so may the signs of abuse or harm. In terms of what malpractice looks like, again, it’s tough to answer. I don’t want to sit here listing things, for me to miss something off, and that to be the one thing you experience. Ultimately, if you’re having a lot of negative feelings about something, if you’re having an “I’m not sure about this” feeling, or something just feels “off”, think about what is it that is making you feel off about that situation? Are you feeling pressured to do something you don’t want to do? Is someone purposely hurting you, physically or emotionally? Is someone overstepping the mark or treating you unfairly?

It’s always worth talking it through with someone you trust – a friend of family member maybe. Sometimes we only hear things in our own minds, but once we verbalise it and hear it out loud, it can help us understand what we’re feeling. Quite often we feel like we’re overreacting, and that’s why having a second opinion can be really useful. I don’t think you’re overreacting, all your feelings are valid.

So what if your gut feeling is that something is wrong, what do you do then? My mantra is always, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Speak to your coach or welfare officer. Ask if you can speak to them after training, or if there’s an appropriate time you can have a quiet word (e.g., at the end of the session, coming in early next time, etc.). If it’s urgent, absolutely ask in the middle of a training session. If it’s not urgent, I want you to make sure you have enough time to talk through your concerns fully, where others aren’t going to be listening in or interrupting. If it’s your coach or welfare officer that is the issue, is there another member of staff or volunteer you can speak to? Often we feel like our coaching teams are all best friends and if you tell someone they’ll tell everyone. Ultimately, if you’re asking for a confidential chat because you have concerns to raise, they should respect that. For further support, Victim Support provide support for victims and survivors of crime and traumatic experiences.

Safeguarding can be a minefield and it can feel overwhelming if it’s not something you have a ton of experience in. Just know, if you’re in a situation that doesn’t feel right there IS support available to you. If you’re a professional in a situation that doesn’t feel right, you have that duty to act on that information. As mentioned, the NSPCC Helpline can really discuss the issue with you and talk you through your options. The NSPCC Learning website has a wealth of safeguarding courses available, as well as information on writing policies. If you’re in the process of updating yours, give them a bell and see how they can support you. Let’s not wait until there’s an issue to make sure we have all our ducks in a row. Preventative action is much better than reacting.

If you’re interested in learning more about safeguarding, check out the NSPCC Learning website. They have a ton of information on key legislation, policy writing and so many safeguarding courses in a number of topics.

https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/safeguarding-child-protection

*Disclaimer: every club has their own policies and procedures and may also use different terms to what I have used. Ultimately, if you have concerns speak to your coach/welfare officer*

That’s all for this month. If you have any topics you’d like us to cover, get in touch!

Written by Rachel

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What it means to be a cheerleader

As we’re nearing the end of the season we start to fill with a variety of emotions. You might be
feeling pure bliss for what you’ve achieved over the past season, a season we’ll never forget. You
might be excited for what is yet to come. There’s also that bittersweet feeling that you may
experience, and that may be because you’re hanging up your cheer shoes, you’re moving
programmes, you’re not on the team you’d hoped for, or a general reflection over the past season.
For the most part, the cheerleading community is a very positive and welcoming community.
However, nothing is without it’s faults. Whether that be gender, sexual orientation, race, socio-
economic status or something else entirely – it’s never truly plain sailing. In this article I want to
explore what it truly means to be a cheerleader; the good, the bad and the ugly.

One of the main things I love about cheerleading is that it’s a female dominated industry; from the
athletes, to coaches and event providers. Cheerleading is female empowerment on a tin. Girls
supporting girls, women lifting women – it’s fantastic. However, whilst there’s a super supportive
environment inside the gym, it’s not always the case outside. We’re making huge waves in
cheerleading and I have definitely noticed a huge change in the general public’s perceptions of
cheer. That may be down to the incredible achievements of our UK teams at the ICU & IASF
Worlds, our presence out in the communities; even on television, when people think cheerleading,
they are more inclined to think about Netflix’s Cheer, or Cov’s performance on Britain’s Got Talent,
rather than Bring it On (still an iconic film nonetheless). There are more and more people now that
know someone who cheers, and that helps with the understanding of what we do. That’s not to say
there is no longer ignorance. We’ve all got our horror stories about what non-cheerleaders have
asked. Women and people with uteruses have so much against them; misogyny, the patriarchy,
periods and associated pain (including the worry whilst wearing a white uniform), smear tests,
PCOS, endometriosis, fibroids, existential dread but to name a few. All of these have an impact upon our
physical abilities, sometimes without us even realising. Yet still, we show up, we perform and we
achieve our goals. We are incredible.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million times more, I am a feminist, and the very definition of
feminism is gender equality. So it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t mention our male, non-binary and other
marginalised gendered cheerleaders. We appreciate our non-female cheerleaders and we love a
good coed team. Yet, cheerleading still isn’t as accessible for males, non-binary and gender
diverse athletes. By accessible I don’t just mean locations and funds – although they can come into
play. When I talk about accessibility, I mean things like stereotypes preventing males taking up our
fabulous sport. Now I’ve not been to school in about ten years but for a lot of us, our school extra-
curricular cheer was our first taste of cheerleading. Back then at least, when the cheer coach
would come in and hand out some flyers about the cheer sessions, they were only given out to the
girls, all the pictures on the flyers were of girls. So why would a boy want to join?

Even if you get past that first barrier, once you’re in, if you don’t adhere to the male/female binary,
what team do you go on, what uniform do you wear? I have so much time for teams who have time
for their athletes without putting them in a box. It needs to be commonplace to have a choice of
uniform and be catered for. We need to get out of the mindset that the gender binary is the default –
it’s not. Just because someone has a typically sounding female name and long hair, they don’t
necessarily identify as female and the “default” uniform. Even with these obstacles, our male and
gender diverse athletes are incredibly successful.
If we’re talking about accessibility, we need to talk about race. Times are shifting in terms of
opening that dialogue, but we still need to ensure that racial equality is on our mind.

Again, it
comes down to that accessibility. If the promo for the team only has white females on, it may not
seem so inviting for someone who doesn’t fit that narrative. When coaches talk about hairstyles
and tanning for comp, make sure we’re including everyone in those discussions so our athletes of
colour aren’t left second guessing how the comp requirements suit them. Again, move away from
the racial stereotypes. We need more people of colour in flyer positions, or any position they want
to be in. Allow our athletes the same grace no matter their gender, sexuality, disability, body size or

race. It’s not the role of our athletes of colour to be that symbol of change or role model (that’s
tiring work), it’s the role of our coaches to allow them those positions. In doing so, we create a
diverse and welcoming environment for EVERYBODY to THRIVE.
I also want to see more adaptive abilities teams and SEND teams. These are really important but
still pretty scarce.

Once again, there are so many barriers to those with additional needs entering a
sport like cheerleading, so we need to make sure we’re prepared, we have coaches with the
appropriate training and we have the time and place to cater for ALL athletes. We need to adopt an
inclusive environment, not exclusive. Everyone is welcome to cheer, everyone CAN cheer, and
everyone deserves that supportive environment that we all know and love.
As well as these societal prejudices (often placed on us at birth), we have a life outside of cheer.
Add these things together and it can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.
Sometimes it feels like something needs to give. We need to listen to our bodies, listen to our
teammates, listen to our marginalised genders’ and people of colour’s experiences. We need to
share that burden in order to move forwards for change.
As well as the misogyny and discrimination, we have lives to lead too. We have teachers and
bosses that perhaps don’t appreciate our sport for what it is. We’re constantly challenging views
whilst challenging our bodies with new skills. We deal with break-ups and bereavements with the
support of our teammates; we come back from injuries with the support of our coaches; we expend
literal blood, sweat and tears in the gym; and we break the bank for our fees, uniform and travel
costs; we do it for a mere two minutes and thirty seconds on the comp mat.

The booming music, the glaring lights and the shadow of the judges table. We do it because cheerleading is a pretty terrific sport.

What does it truly mean to be a UK cheerleader? It means that, In spite of all that, we as
cheerleaders take on the weight of centuries of discrimination, and we still perform with a smile and
a wink. On the floor when the lights are bright and the music is booming, that weight doesn’t feel so
heavy and we do it for the love of the sport and the support of our teammates and coaches. When
the weight of the world is bringing you down, learn to rest, not to quit. That goes for all things in life.
Listen to your body. Preventative action is much easier than reactive action. We’re nearing the end
of the season now, so if you need to take a couple of weeks to reset, recuperate, and realign with
your goals (after comp) this is the time to do it.


Be open and honest with your coaches. They’re often pretty good at advice and have likely been in
your situation before. They want to see you do well in and outside of the gym. You might think your
time as an athlete is over, but still want to be involved. Could you take on a recreational class,
volunteer at your programme or get into coaching? There are always options and those around you
will be best placed to advise and support you.
Cheerleading may be a part of your life for just one season, your three years at uni, or half of your
life. Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran, I’m sure you’ll always hold a special bow-shaped place
in your heart.
That’s all for this month. If you have any topics you’d like us to cover, get in touch! If you find
yourself creating a vision board, be sure to tag us.
Happy goal setting!
Ta’ra for now,
Rach

Written by Rachel

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