Hornets buzzing over first competition

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]

19 comments

  1. cheerleading is not a proper sport. great article but it’s just a load of pom-poms and shouting.

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  2. 10 Mar ’09 at 7:58 pm

    Hannah Barwick-Walters

    If your going to be critical of a club, please at least get your facts right.

    We don’t use poms, and neither do we ‘shout’.

    The girls train very hard and comments such as above can be really disheartening

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  3. With how far they’ve come in one year, and the technical excellence of what they can do, they’re an exceptional sport in my book. Keep up the good work guys.

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  4. You mean like football is just a load of pig’s bladders and shouting? Hmmm… let’s take a quote:

    “Sport is an activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively. Sports commonly refer to activities where the physical capabilities of the competitor are the sole or primary determinant of the outcome […] Sport is commonly defined as an organized, competitive and skillful physical activity requiring commitment and fair play.”

    I reckon cheerleading qualifies, and looks like fun too.

    Or are you just trolling?

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  5. We don’t use pom-poms mate… The next time you hold someone above your head, then chuck them to the ceiling and finally catch them with confidence, that’s when you can comment.

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  6. If you had ever watched us you would know we have never used pom poms and it is much more physical than a lot of other sports out there!

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  7. If table tennis is a sport and darts is a sport, then cheerleading is without a doubt a sport. We train three times a week just like rugby or football. I don’t understand why people can’t accept this! It’s people like “James” who can’t even be bothered to read the article and go along with cheer stereotypes who really have no idea of how skilled we are. Some people lift weights, cheerleaders lift people.

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  8. I was sceptical, but if you go and watch them train it is pretty impressive and in fact dangerous.

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  9. Good to see we’ve convinced some people that we’re a sport team! Dancing, jumping, gymnastics, team work, co-ordination, skill and strength, definitely a sport, andd a tough one!

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  10. If cheerleading’s a sport, I’m a dutchman. (by the way I was born in Bradford).

    How is it cheerleading if you don’t use pom poms? It’s like table tennis without the table.

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    • Haha, oh James you are just soooo witty!

      Bascially, pom poms are a prop that’s all, so it’s still cheerleading whether they’re there or not! Table tennis without a table would just be tennis, duh.. In fact, this is a really trivial point..

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  11. This one seems to be a bit of a non-starter, James. As far as I can see, is pretty much beyond dispute that cheerleading is a sport, in every sense of the word. I think what you are referring to is the pom-pom girls at the side of college ‘football’ games in America, which is something quite different to what these girls are doing. They take their sport seriously and are very dedicated in training etc. Personally, I don’t really understand what your argument is at all? Isn’t gymnastics a sport? And, you must admit that cheerleading is quite similar when you think about it, but with even more emphasis on ‘team’ (which I would have thought is a big part of your criteria anyway?).

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  12. If they’re not using pom-poms, they should not call themselves ‘cheerleaders’. They’re just exuberant people in a room.

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  13. what are they cheering?

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  14. James… I’m amazed how you can continue to keep such a view when you’ve been proven you so wrong so many times already. I think it’s fantastic what the girls(there may be guys I’m not sure) are doing though I am however sceptical as to how they are so confident they will win their tournament. I would like to wish you all the best though and I’m sure you’ll do us all proud!

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  15. James, very silly of you to attempt to keep up such a weak argument to be honest. Pom-poms really? at no point at competition level are we required to use them, they are only there as a form of fun when supporting games (would you like to read cheer guidelines and rules?) I think i’ll ignore you now…

    Anyway, we are so confident because we have worked exceptionally hard this term and that is what us cheerleaders are, positive! In the face of such adversity (mentioning no names) it looks like we should be extra extra confident for ourselves. Thanks to all who have wished us their best, we’re all very excited about our competition which is now only 3 weeks away!

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  16. 18 Mar ’09 at 1:29 pm

    Hannah Barwick-Walters

    Ben,
    Thankyou for your support. Its much appreciated.

    I was misquoted in part as I said we were feeling positive about doing well in the competition, with our main focus on being placed higher than Lancaster in our division.
    We are not assuming a ‘comprehensive victory’, but we know that we have a very well choreographed routine thanks to our coach Donna so fingers crossed.

    This year just the experience of competition will be brilliant!

    James, Im sure you are just trying to spark debate on here with your comments and with that you have been succesful but we have heard similar views before and are used to defending cheerleading.

    Hopefully at roses we will be able to show people what cheerleading actually involves which may result in a bit less criticism of the club.

    Thanks very much.

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  17. James, come on, pom poms don’t define cheerleading. We cheer, we are cheerful and i think the leading is about encouraging and supporting teams to victory! Not about balls of shredding paper. I think you’re just trying to spark things off. Oh well. Thanks everyone else who’s being so supportive! 3 weeks to go!

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  18. thanks everyone for the support!! im sure you’ll all be pleased to know we did amazingly at our first competition…5th out of 13 other teams and 4th out of 17 other teams! :-D

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