ICE on fire

Wind­sor’s Xclu­sive cheer team head­ing to world com­pe­ti­tion in Florida this April

Valley Journal Advertiser - - SPORTS - BY CA­ROLE MOR­RIS-UN­DER­HILL WWW.HANTSJOURNAL.CA Ca­role.Mor­ris-Un­der­hill@hantsjournal.ca

Speak with any mem­ber of the In­tegrity Cheer Em­pire’s Xclu­sive team and there’s a good chance they’re brim­ming with ex­cite­ment.

And they have good rea­son to be.

The in­ter­na­tional co-ed level 5 cheer team set their sights on ob­tain­ing a bid to com­pete at the 2018 Cheer­lead­ing Worlds in Or­lando, Florida, and they qual­i­fied dur­ing their first at­tempt. “Their goal for this sea­son was to achieve their bid at their first at­tempt, which they did,” coach Chris Cun­ning­ham. said

The team, which con­sists of ath­letes from through­out the Val­ley, Hants County, and HRM, is the first and only team from the Val­ley re­gion to ever re­ceive that bid.

Cun­ning­ham, who re­lo­cated to Ber­wick in 2017 and took on the role of all-star man­ager and direc­tor at In­tegrity Cheer Em­pire, couldn’t be more pleased.

“It is su­per ex­cit­ing for these kids be­cause they tried for it last year,” said Cun­ning­ham.

“That’s a real hit to the heart when you work that hard and you have a goal in mind and you don’t get to pur­sue it be­cause some­thing gets in the way,” he said of the team’s failed at­tempt last sea­son.

Cun­ning­ham brought the ex­pe­ri­ence they needed to be suc­cess­ful - be­fore mov­ing to Nova Sco­tia, he had spent the prior six sea­sons work­ing with Power Cheer Toronto.

“This sea­son, we just worked re­ally hard, worked on their car­dio, their strength train­ing, their stunt tech­niques, their tum­ble tech­niques to get them to a place where they could ac­tu­ally be com­pet­i­tive,” he said.

And Cun­ning­ham is proud of how much they’ve ac­com­plished.

“To be able to help this team get there makes me re­ally proud for my­self, but re­ally proud of them,” he said.

“There’s a lot of ex­cite­ment. This team has com­peted very well all sea­son and done a re­ally good job of self-pro­mo­tion. We also have a lot of back­ing in our prov­ince as well. Peo­ple re­ally want to see them suc­ceed, which feels re­ally good.”

The team is com­prised of 22 ath­letes, three of which are al­ter­nates.

Fif­teen-year-old Jal­isa Beals, from Eller­shouse, has been cheer­ing for seven years. She’s a flyer on the team and said she’s ex­cited to take in ev­ery mo­ment of their up­com­ing trip.

“I’m ex­cited to see all the dif­fer­ent teams that will be there that I’ve never seen in per­son,” she said.

Beals likens the cheer team to one big fam­ily, and she can’t wait to share the ex­pe­ri­ence with her team­mates.

“I love the sup­port that ev­ery­one gives me at ICE and ev­ery­one is like a big fam­ily and it’s just great to be able to go in the gym and know that ev­ery­one around you is sup­port­ing you,” she said.

Seven­teen-year-old flyer Jenna Keizer trav­els to Wind­sor from Cold­brook to par­tic­i­pate in the cheer squad. She’s equally ex­cited to com­pete at the world com­pe­ti­tion.

“I’m so ex­cited. It’s a huge deal, es­pe­cially for around here. It’s some­thing that not many peo­ple get to ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s a crazy thought to even get to go,” she said.

Keizer said at­tend­ing worlds has been a goal since she started cheer­ing eight years ago.

“Cheer­lead­ing in Canada is not as huge as it is in the States and it’s only re­cently be­come big around here. Es­pe­cially in the Mar­itimes, you don’t see a lot of peo­ple go down to the world cham­pi­onships,” said Keizer.

The Cen­tral Kings Ru­ral High School stu­dent says she and her team­mates have worked hard to get to where they are and she’s proud of ev­ery­one.

Cun­ning­ham en­cour­ages any­one in­ter­ested in get­ting in­volved with the In­tegrity Cheer Em­pire, which is lo­cated at 5 San­ford Dr., in Wind­sor, to con­tact him.

“We have teams for all lev­els, all ages, and all sorts of com­pet­i­tive streams and we would like to wel­come more folks into our fam­ily for sea­son nine,” said Cun­ning­ham. To find out more about ICE and what teams are avail­able, email

AL­LI­SON NEW­TON

The In­tegrity Cheer Em­pire’s Xclu­sive team is head­ing to Florida this April to com­pete at a world com­pe­ti­tion.

AL­LI­SON NEW­TON

Xclu­sive has been hard at work per­fect­ing their stunts and over­all per­for­mance.

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