Popularised by the film ‘Bring it On’, again by ‘Bring it on Again’ and then again by three further ‘Bring it On’ based sequels, cheerleading, once the sole preserve of Americans, has crossed the pond. Throughout the country, cheerleading squads have mobilised like secret militias.
However, for all its 46 years of unparalleled recreation, York has been mystifyingly bereft of a cheerleading squad. Until last term that is. Thanks to the gargantuan efforts of Hannah Barwick-Walters, York now has the cheerleading squad it craved: the York Hornets. The Hornets are poised to enter the nationwide cheerleading competition in Telford in a few weeks time and are quietly confident of comprehensive victory.
“But wait,” you say, “cheerleading? Competitive? Sport? Telford? Not likely bub!” Try telling that to Barwick-Walters. She is adamant that cheerleading is a sport and not a hobby like weaving or beer mat flipping. York Sport agrees and has recognised them as a sports club and not a society, belying their penurious reputation by lavishing the Hornets with bountiful funds. The Hornets snub the use of pom-poms on ethical grounds and utilise obfuscating sports jargon. ‘Base prep’, ‘straddle’ and ‘power tumbling’ are just some of the terms used during training.
Cheerleading is dangerous too. In the USA, it accounts for two thirds of catastrophic sports injuries sustained by girls, making it technically more dangerous to girls than The Crimean War and the first Gulf War put together. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has decreed that cheerleading is a ‘contact sport’, just like rugby or water polo.
Nouse, for one, agrees. Whilst talking to Head Coach Donna Somerville, three girls were quite suddenly flung six feet into the air; only gravity – as is often the case – holding them back. Their fellow Hornets caught them, smiles and relief etched on their faces. It’s called a ‘basket toss’.
Only when you’ve seen one will you know what it takes to be a cheerleader. You have to be more physical than a hockey player, more precise than a gymnast and funkier than both of them put together. To those who want to challenge cheerleading’s status as a sport, Barwick-Walters has only one thing to say: bring it on!
>> To find out more or get involved in the York Hornets, contact [email protected]