A cheerleading dream
Cheerleading Worlds a dream come true for Clarke’s Beach teen
Clarke’s Beach’s Phoebe Wilkins recently fulfilled a lifelong dream after she competed at the USASF World Cheerleading Championships in Orlando, Fla., April 24-26. Wilkins tested her skills against some of the best talent the world has to offer and even met her cheerleading idol Carly Manning.
To the untrained eye, cheerleading may seem like nothing more than cheers and flips.
However, look closely and you’ll find a world of impressive athletes, intense training and a dedication unlike any other. It is a far cry from the “non-athlete” label outsiders might place on them.
“I can see where they are coming from because they don’t have a good perception of what it is. They’ve never seen the all-star stuff,” said Clarke’s Beach’s Phoebe Wilkins. “The school stuff is great but it’s not near as intense as all-star cheerleading. It really drives me though.
“I’ve been doing it for five years and I can’t get through my routine, hitting all of my tumbling without feeling like I’m physically going to die. The minute it starts, you’re doing handsprings into a layout or something. As soon as you land it, you have to run to your next spot and then pulling another backflip.”
Phoebe, a level-5 cheerleader, knows a thing or two about the sport. She knows the dedication and training it takes to become a high-level athlete. From learning the art of tumbling to stunting, Phoebe has spent hours in the gym perfecting it.
The 16-year-old recently returned from the United States All-Star Federation (USASF) World Cheerleading Championships, completing a dream she’s had since her training started six years ago.
Travelling with St. John’s-based Max Force Athletics, Phoebe was in Orlando, Fla., for the competition held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex April 24-26.
“It’s all surreal,” said the Ascension Collegiate student. “We kind of took over that whole place.”
An invite only event, Phoebe and her team received the offer after a strong showing at this year’s Cheer-Expo National Championships in Halifax, N.S.
Performing on one of the biggest cheerleading stages on the planet isn’t something a teenager goes through every day.
“It was really nerve wracking because you know all of these amazing cheerleaders are watching you and I just remember being really nervous,” said Phoebe, daughter of Peter Wilkins and Michelle Mahoney-Wilkins.
That initial feeling was there leading up to hitting the mat for the first time.
For Phoebe, it didn’t last the entire competition or even through the opening performance.
“As you go through your warm-ups, which are seven minutes maybe, and then you wait to go on the mat,” she said.
“Your performance is two minutes and 30 seconds, that’s it. Once you get to your spot on the mat and the music turns on, everything turns off. You’re in muscle memory mode and the nervousness goes away.”
Meeting her idol
When she talks about the worlds, Phoebe’s eyes light up and her hand gestures become more pronounced and extravagant.
It’s all surreal. We kind of took over that whole place. Phoebe Wilkins
It is easy to tell she is still harbouring energy from the experience. Some of that excess energy still coursing through her body comes from meeting her cheerleading idol, Carly Manning.
Phoebe and the biggest cheerleading star in the world met previously, albeit never personally.
The pair Skyped each other some three years ago, but this was Phoebe’s first opportunity to meet Manning in person.
“We were sitting in the big stadium for finals and we saw their entire team go to one of the top corners after their routine,” she said.
“I went over and she remembered me from when we Skyped. It was really great.”
All cheerleading all of the time
At an event like the World Championships, most conversations revolve around cheerleading. While in Orlando, the group hung out at Disney World and took in all the competition had to offer.
“There wasn’t a dull moment. We made new friends, made friends with some parents, but we were always on the go and always super excited,” said Phoebe.
If everything goes according to plan, she’ll be crossing another international competition off her list — the International All-Star Federation World Championship.
That’s where national teams compete.
“I’ve always done training in hopes of trying out for Team Canada one day,” said Phoebe. “I’m hopefully going to push it to try that.”
Clarke’s Beach’s Phoebe Wilkins competes during the United States All-Star Federation (USASF) World Cheerleading Championships held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla., April 24-26.