Name: Sophie Mattes
Team England ParaCheer Team
Disability : I am profoundly deaf in both ears.
I also have a condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome which is to do with my joints. They dislocate/break joints/bones easy because the collagen (joint glue) is too stretchy. It is also the cause of all my disabilities.
I have Gastroparesis which is literally a paralysed stomach and means I have a pacemaker in my tummy.
I also have Orthostatic Intolerance (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) which is where my blood pressure can’t control itself well causing lightheadedness/fainting/pins and needles and poor circulation.
Cheer/Dance Career Goals:
My Cheer goals are to Win a Worlds ring (which cheerleader doesn’t have that goal) but also just to better my skills and keep on learning whilst making new friends all the time. I also want to prove to the world that I can still do what I love no matter what. I’d also love to be able to teach all the things I learn to younger athletes so they can then go on to also achieve their goals within cheerleading!
Youtube channel Thedramaqueensoph
Share something that makes you happy:
Achieving things that I have worked really hard for such as my back walkover. I persevered through the joint pain and light headedness and eventually reach my goal of getting my back walkover which I can now compete with in my club team (Sapphire Elite Allstars).
Which Para Team are you most excited to see and why?
I’m really excited to watch Team England Para Hip Hop team as I love dance but I’m excited to watch ParaCheer Wales too
How many years of experience do you have? I have been cheering for 5 years now but this is my 4 season competing as I did just under a season of learning cheer.
Which teams are you currently a part of or have been part of in the past?
As well as Team England Para Cheer, I am also with Sapphire Elite Allstars. I started my cheer with London Eclipse and after a year moved to Sapphire.
What was it like when you attended try-outs for Team England ParaCheer?
It was scary because there were so many people there and everyone had so much talent. I wanted to make the team so badly so put so much pressure on myself but try-outs were also really fun because I got to learn new things right from the word go and make new friends too who didn’t see any of my disabilities as anything but normal.
Your favourite memory from being a part of Team England ParaCheer
My favourite memory so far is that very first practice we had were we got to know each other whilst already learning how to make adaptions. It was the first time I truly felt like I fit in somewhere and that my health condition wasn’t slowing anyone down. Even though I know Sapphire are super accepting and always help me, being in a room with other athletes who also face those same feelings was amazing. Just thinking about it makes me smile.
Describe the funniest thing that’s happen to you while you were at training –
It usually is because of my hearing where I will hear something VERY different to what was actually said. Sometimes I should think before I just speak out what I THINK I heard….
Are there any stunt/dance/technique adaptations you make which you find especially interesting?
I absolutely love working with those in a wheel chair because being a base, you really have to learn how to use your arms rather than relying on being able to dip and absorb through your legs and with not as much dip.
What advice would you give to someone who was scared to try-out for Team England Para this year
Everyone is feeling the exact same way. Overwhelmed by how many people are going to be at try-outs and the feeling of what if you don’t make the team. Everyone is so lovely and it is an atmosphere you will have never felt before. The support and love from the coaches but every other athlete in that room. Try-outs aren’t just about what skills you already have, they are also about your personality and whether you listen to the coaches advice and willing to learn. Go in with a positive attitude and be yourself because even if you don’t make the team, you will still learn an incredible amount just in that try-out alone. Be yourself, put 110% in and just learn from coaches and even other athletes. But most importantly…. have FUN!
After Worlds, what will you miss about Team England Para and why
: I will miss training with the rest of the team and the coaches. The feeling I get from and during training, the love and support from all the athletes and coaches is something that keeps me going even on those hard days. I will miss learning new things every session but most importantly, i will miss every single person because they are honestly like my family now. I look forward to our training be the second I leave one training because we always have a laugh whilst getting work done because that is the best thing ever knowing that we are all working towards the same thing yet don’t forget to have fun with it.
What are you most excited to experience at Worlds 2018?
I am excited to see all the other teams perform, the atmosphere and to step out on that mat with people I absolutely love whilst we show the world what hard work, team work and adaptions can mean you achieve. I’m also so excited to get to hang out with all my friends across the world
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