By Ottawa Sportspage, for Louis-Riel Rebelles
The newest members of the Louis-Riel sports-study program are a high-flying, high-energy bunch.
Established in partnership with Flyers Cheer Gym in Orleans, the popular new cheer stream will soon wrap up its first season, its athletes set to emerge as a stronger group ready to tackle the next levels in their ever-growing sport.
“It’s been really beneficial,” indicates Kelly Nightingale, the Flyers’ club manager. “They get more time to train those extra skills so they are all ready to move forward next year, instead of just starting to learn the more difficult skills.”
Nightingale notes that cheer has drastically evolved from the dated image of cheerleaders with pom-poms on the sidelines, there to support the boys’ team. Cheer today features dynamic, intense routines full of tumbling, stunting and throws. The time spent training now matches or exceeds many sports.
The Louis-Riel students study in regular classes in the morning, then split their regular fourth periods between the Flyers studio and the Dome LR for physical conditioning.
“A lot of our skills are strength-based, like tumbling and stunting,” highlights Nightingale, “so individual conditioning and practicing for 3 hours here really builds up their stamina and strength to hit the higher-level skills without any injuries.”
Cheer athletes often have backgrounds in other sports like gymnastics, dance or figure skating, and either come to cheer to perfect the skills they need in their own sport, or to try a new sport altogether.
That’s the case for a pair of Louis-Riel students, Juliette Emers and Marissa Houle. Emers switched from gymnastics to cheer 3 years ago, while Houle was previously in trampoline and is now in her first year of cheer.
“When I came, I didn’t know everyone and they welcomed me extremely well,”
Houle recounts. “It’s really nice that it’s that way. We can all trust each and we’re all there for each other.”
Emers was also attracted to the “team sport” atmosphere that cheer provides. Both Emers and Houle say their ultimate goal is to make it onto a world championships team – like their coach Makiya Plant. Plant is a former gymnast herself who’s twice won world titles with the sister Flyers club in Montreal, which is widely recognized amongst the best in Canada and around the world.
“Even with our coaches, it’s like we’re a big family, a big group of friends,” underlines Emers. “We all work together and I really like that.”