University of York cheerleaders, the York Hornets, have achieved first place at The BCA (British Cheerleading Association) Midlands Classic competition, beating 18 other squads to the title.
The 25-member squad entered the two-day competition over the Easter weekend of 3rd – 4th April at Telford International Centre, impressing judges with a routine of two minutes 30 seconds showcasing their acrobatic, dance and group skills to a fast paced mash-up of contemporary music.
Established by President Hannah Barwick-Walters and Head Coach Donna Somerville in 2008, the Gold and Black squad have certainly upped their game from last year’s fourth place at the Telford competition.
After intensive preparation throughout the spring term, the squad engaged in 2 days full training on campus and perfected their routine at a gymnastics centre in the week running up to the competition.
They entered level 2 of the University and All Star division, competing against an unusually high 19 other teams.
Barwick-Walters, a third year Social Policy and Social Work student, commented: “It was tough as usually there are only 4 or 5 in a division. More Uni’s are getting squads now – divisions are getting larger.”
Last year, the Hornet’s came fourth out of a 12-squad division, with their close competitors the Royal Holloway Tom Cats winning the trophy.
“They only announce the top three” said Barwick-Walters “so we just had no idea whether we had first place or lower down. There was silence for like a minute before they announced it.”
The girls agree their routines were stronger this year, with a healthy mix of both experienced cheerleaders and freshers in their competitive squad. Co-ed divisions are also available, but this year no Hornet boys tried out.
The routines were judged on skills, control, jumps and formations. Barwick-Walters recalls: “We came off the mat absolutely chuffed, some routines you can go off crying! There were no falls, our baskets were high, the flyers were controlled, the pyramids were good. And our 3 Kodak moments were great, everyone cleaned.”
The team scored 243 points out of a possible 300, with second place awarded to the Brighton Panthers with 239.5. The Hornets chose to enter in at level 2, although higher divisions are available up to level 5 which give the option of performing more demanding stunts but not necessarily performances of a higher standard. Barwick-Walters explains: “We entered in at level 2 because our aim was to be hitting skills and progressing properly rather than to throw ourselves in at the deep end with the most technical kinds of performances. It’s better to max out your division.”
“We were just aiming to better ourselves. At the back of my mind I wanted first place for us, but I never said it to the girls.”
Rowan Parks, a third year social policy student and the society’s Press and Publicity Officer agrees: “Our initial aim was to come off the mat happy…when we watched the video back we were all thrilled with our performance but still weren’t sure we’d beaten last years’ winners. It was the most amazing feeling. We’d all worked so hard and it had totally paid off!”
Following the squads’ victory at Telford, several went on the Hornets first “tour”, attending Rimini’s Festival Italia which ran from 5th – 11th April. Hornets attended skills workshops alongside other squads such as the Nottingham Knights and “stunting on the beach was fun.” Laura Faye Nero, a first year Politics student, said of the tour: “It was great to combine cheerleading with a holiday. Chilled out days on the beach and a crazy nightlife, with lots of team banter and chants.”
For Barwick-Walters, their graduating founder and 2 year President, she plans to tryout for a London-based level 4 squad in September. “I’m looking forward to the chance to perform and compete with a squad; it will be a different feeling to relinquish the responsibility of Hornets. It would be really great at competitions to catch up and I’d hope to be able to come back and help out with new skills.”
Now all eyes are on Week 6 and the Future Cheer Internationals, 5th- 6th June at Bournemouth International Centre. Entering level 2 again and competing against teams such as the Royal Holloway Tom Cats: “It’ll be the last competition for us old girls” says Barwick-Walters “it’s possibly the biggest in the country. If we get 1st at the BIC it would be amazing.”