It turned out to be the most memorable weekend in the relatively short history of the Mission Academy of Cheer Excellence.
The competitive cheerleading club recorded six first place finishes at the Okanagan Cheerleading Championships on Saturday, a fitting end to the season.
“We’re really proud,” said head coach Donna Kane, of the event which took place at the University of British Columbia-Okanagan campus.
“We might have had a complete clean sweep but they don’t tend to give placement to the tiny teens groups. It’s a full sweep in our eyes. It’s crazy, it’s unheard of, and it might never happen again.”
Teams performed a judged two and a half minute routine. Kane explained that every small detail is scored by the judges.
“You have to go up in a stunt a certain way and come down a certain way,” she said. “There is so much precision involved and the timing of it is very important. You get scored on overall impression, jumping skills and tumbling skills, everyone has to be on point to win.”
Mission earned first place in mini-kiss (six to eight years old), youth heart (nine to 11), youth three rush, junior sting (11 to 15), mini prep (five to six) and in an individual performance. The team also brought home the Grand Championship Award for Youth Level 1.
Kane said the highlight of the wins was the performance of the youth heart group. She admitted they came up short at times during the year, but brought out their best in Kelowna.
“It was heartbreaking in an exciting way,” she said. “They have struggled all year and have always landed fourth or fifth or sometimes last, but they pulled through. And they got grand champs as well, it was so exciting. They were so ecstatic, everyone was crying and so proud. We all felt happy for youth hearts, there was not a dry eye in our group.”
She said her teams practice about three times a week and the season runs from May to May. Tryouts for next season start this month, with new team placements being assigned on May 28. The new teams start in June, then the clubs break for the summer and return to practice in September.
Kane, who launched the group in October of 2014, said the popularity of the sport is booming.
“We started with 14 kids and now have 100,” she said. “It’s growing, its a really popular sport. It’s basically gymnastics and dance combined, kids love it.”
She said the Kelowna event saw Mission compete against clubs from all over the province and the sport is spreading across Canada and beginning to rival its immense popularity in the US. Kane said she welcomes new recruits, and pointed out that newcomers can try out a free tumbling day to see if they want to pursue the sport.
For more details on the club, visit cheerthis.ca.