Popping my cheerleading cherry

On Saturday evening I took a break from editing (my brain had well and truly been sucked dry by then) to go watch a cheerleading competition. Julian was a judge for this two-day comp at the International Centre in Mississauga, and very kindly organised for me to have free entry. While he’d been there since 6:30am, I only went to the last round which started at 7:30pm.

CheerleadingUnfortunately getting to the International Centre was a bit of hassle; it’s past the airport. Unfortunately the train was undergoing track repairs or something so I couldn’t get the subway from Bloor-Yonge. I bought a burger and walked up to St George, which was a nice walk and much more enjoyable than standing in the long queue to catch the bus just a few stops.

I got off at Kipling, caught the Airport Rocket and then got off at Jetliner Road. I waited for the 52, however the 52A came along and I got on that, thinking it would go where I needed it to go. Apparently not. I was soon going the wrong way down Airport Road but didn’t realise until I’d gotten somewhere down near the 600s (the centre is at 6900).

I got off as soon as I could. It was too far to walk so I waited on the other side of the road for the bus back. Another 52A came by so I asked which bus to get and he said 52D. Why can’t they just give them different numbers?! 52D came by shortly after, I had to pay another fare…and then another because it was going past the airport. So for a journey that was originally meant to cost $3 ended up costing me $9.

Anyway, I made it to the International Centre with about five minutes to spare. Julian met me, looking very official and judge-like (not judgemental of course). There were a lot of uniformed girls and boys around, wearing sparkly leotards, lots of make up and their hair in buns. I took a seat in the stands and waited for Group 5 and Group 6 to perform.

I know I’m not alone in that all my cheerleading references come from the movie Bring It On. I had lines from the movie running through my head (aided by Julian) and it was comforting to see there was in fact a big ugly blue mat. The show began. The music was loud and had a thumping beat. Girls (mostly, only two teams were co-ed) invaded the mat and got ready for the music to begin.

It took about six routines before I stopped cringing in anticipation of girls being thrown or falling from a great height to the floor. There were tumbles and falls out of position, a couple nearly ending up face-planting, but on the whole, I was impressed. I can’t even do a handstand so I have low standards to meet. One girl collapsed out of fall and had to be carried off; her team then had to stop and leave the mat.

Two of the teams were really good, and just had me going wow throughout. One was an all-girl team that, from memory, didn’t have any stumbles or falls. Crisp moves, high energy and a great performance. Another was co-ed from Quebec that had five (or six) guys that at one point had one of them being launched into the air out of the ‘basket’. Really cool.

The crowd goes wild through these routines, and has something they shout (Hit and Pull) I think when something specific happens, and then clapping during the dance near the end. It’s definitely an audience-participation sport.

It finished at about 8:30 or 9 and then Julian and I headed home. We then went for dinner, with Glen joining us after work for a late supper.

What a great day and a different experience. So happy I went.

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