A cheer family
Ascension Collegiate wins provincial cheerleading title
Ask any member of the Ascension Collegiate cheerleading squad and they will tell you they consider each other family.
“We call it our cheer family,” said coach Kerilynn Mercer.
This cheer family fights like any other. In practice, they shout and glare at each other.
Sometimes they disagree with each other, but that does not mean they do not care about each other.
Many of the girls on the team have been together since their first days at the Bay Roberts based school.
When it is time to compete, they pull together and all of what may have divided them in practice at times dissolves. Just like a family.
“Regardless of what goes on in practice, everyone is there for the same reason,” said Level III member Erica Badcock.
“We’re a true family,” added Mercer.
Nothing could be a greater example of this bond than the recent Newfoundland and Labrador Cheer Association Provincial Championships at the Jack Byrne Arena in Torbay on May 4.
It was the culmination of nine months of hard work for the Astros as the team pushed itself over the hump and was named provincial champions of the Level III competition ahead of St. Kevin’s High in the Goulds and Holy Spirit High in Conception Bay South.
The championship was the first for the school in five years. Prior to the victory, Ascension had been runner-up a number of times.
Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, as they say.
“It’s amazing to get over that hump,” said squad captain Danielle St. Croix.
The Astros finished with a score of 285.25, which was 13 points above the second-place team from St. Kevin’s, who scored 272.75.
In cheerleading, the squads perform two rundowns of their routine. A score is given after each performance, with those two scores added up to make the final tally.
After the first run, it was not clear that Ascension would be crowned provincial champions. The school had a score of 137.5, which put them behind St. Kevin’s by a slim 1.25 points heading into the second round.
“Our first run was solid, but we had a few minor fumbles,” said coach Jennifer Roach.
Heading into the final round, the Astros knew they had to put together a strong routine in order to claim victory.
“It can either make or break you. It’ll either make you realize that you’re so close or it’ll add a little bit more pressure,” said Mercer. “The girls knew that they had a routine that was worthy of first place and it kind of worked in their favour.”
Pulling up their socks — they don’t actually wear socks — the squad pulled off a score of 147.75.
“The only memory I have of doing the routine is doing the first clap,” said Katie Power. “The rest is a blur.”
They’re calling our name
When waiting for the results of a competition to be called out, athletes can go through the complete gambit of emotion.
It was no different for the Astros.
“I shot up,” said Jenna Pham of what happened when her team was named provincial champions. “You didn’t know who you were hugging.”
“When they announced our name, everyone kind of stopped,” added Mercer. “There was one big group hug, and everyone was going insane.”
When preparing for the competition, the Astros would look at the tapes of previous winners and study what it was they did in order to win.
Now, the next team of Ascension Collegiate Astros cheerleaders, could do that with their routine.
“For future teams, they’re going to look back at us,” said Katie. “We’re the girls that won. We’re those girls now.”