Heritage Collegiate cheerleading team brought home a national banner thanks to their flawless performance at Cheer Expo in Halifax last month.
The 32 member team was among more than 200 hundred cheerleading teams from across the country that competed at the Halifax Forum, March 24 and 25.
Heritage competed in the Open Senior Level II category.
It is a pretty remarkable effort especially when you take into consideration it’s only the second time they have ever performed in public. Last year they attended the provincial competition for the first time and won the title in their category.
The team performed their routine twice over the two-day competition in Halifax.
“On the first day our team weren’t given any deductions at all,” says the squad’s captain Taylor Smart.
The two and a half minute routine consists of stunts, jumps, gymnastics and dance.
Sarah Penney says performing before a large crowd is something that takes a little getting used to. She says while she was a little nervous at the start, once the team got into the rhythm of the routine, things fell into place quickly.
“There is a lot more to it than people realize. Our performance in Halifax had a lot of choreographed moves,” says Penney.
A clean routine doesn’t happen without practice. Both girls say everyone on the team put a lot of time and effort into preparing for the event.
“You have to be mentally fit. You have to know your next move. You have to be able to count in your head as you’re going through the routine. You have to know what you’re doing at all times and be aware of where everyone else is on the floor,” says Smart.
Penney says competition makes everyone stronger.
“There’s no better feeling than competing. You can come away and say you just did the best you could. You did the best stunts, you danced your heart out,” says Penney. “Even if a stunt doesn’t go as planned (you), pick yourself up and go on.”
The two say their success in competition was the result of a lot of support from the school, the community and a couple of members of the MUN cheerleading team.
“Tiffany Henderson and Angela Picco have been a tremendous help to our team,” says Smart. “We also have cheerleading clinics where the MUN girls come out and show us some new moves. That’s usually on weekends. Our coach Janice Harnum who does a lot of things behind the scenes for us, is a big help to us as well.
Penney says being a close-knit team also helps.
“We have an amazing group. I’m really proud of everything we’ve done. We started two years ago and we were small and not quite sure of where we were going. I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished especially going to a national competition and winning our division.”
Both girls agree they learned a lot from their experience at the national event.
“We grew as a team because we were so focused on helping each other become better,” says Smart. “Even within the team we made better relationships. Personally, I feel stronger. Being a cheerleader gives me a lot more confidence.”
For the team’s coach and mentor, Janice Harnum, it was a great learning experience for everyone.
“This sport is so large across the country and for a small community school like Heritage Collegiate in Lethbridge to bring home a national banner is just absolutely amazing,” she said.
“They worked to no end to bring home what they did from Halifax. Most of the teams that we saw in Halifax had been part of a cheerleading team since they were five or six years old. This group of 30 girls and two guys have only been cheerleading for two years so that shows the dedication they’ve put into it. They found success early. But they worked very hard to attain that success. It’s amazing.”
Next up for the Heritage cheerleading team is the provincial cheerleading championships. That competition is set for May 25 and 26 at the Jack Byrne Arena in Torbay. To see video of the Heritage Huskies routine in Halifax Click here.