Lancaster cheerleaders compete at Roses for the first time

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After years and years of waiting, cheerleading has finally become part of Roses. For many, cheerleading entails a group of women stood at the side of an America football game with pom poms shouting, dancing and chanting. In reality, cheerleading is a highly competitive and extreme sport which involves elements of stunting, jumping, motions, gymnastics and dancing. Over the past few decades, cheerleading has become a worldwide phenomenon and requires exceptional dedication to participate. For those who wonder what the Lancaster Cheerleading Squad actually does, it may come as a shock. This year has been a remarkably successful year for the Lancaster Roses. With four squads and over 100 members, they have been performing at university events throughout the year such as Thanksgiving, Campus Fest and International Women’s Day whilst also performing outside of the University at Morecambe FC games. The society has 1 dance squad (Diamond), an all-girl level 1 squad (Pearl), an all-girl level 2 squad (Ruby) and a co-ed level 3 squad (Onyx) who have all competed at and taken trophies home from national competitions including the British Cheerleading Association (BCA) in Telford and the International Cheerleading Coalition (ICC) in Nottingham. Not only did the Roses compete at some of the most exciting, renowned and talent-filled cheerleading competitions in the UK, but Diamond became double national championships at BCA and ICC by placing 1st in both competitions. Onyx also came 3rd at ICC meaning both Onyx and Diamond won bids to the European Summit in Worcester for this summer. This year, therefore, seemed like the perfect time for the Lancaster Roses Cheerleading Squad to make their Roses debut.

Once summer term started, the Lancaster Roses began training hard for the upcoming competition at the weekend. Defying the odds, Onyx had to revamp their routine with half the squad being lost to revision period, Onyx stunt group were determined to prove their talent after BCA’s unfortunate blip, Ruby was training hard for hours in County South and Diamond was perfecting their already flawless routine. After watching fellow Lancastrians compete all weekend, it soon became the Lancaster Roses turn to compete on the Sunday afternoon. Sitting nervously in Derwent College bar whilst the York Hornets practised their stunts and routines in the competition hall, the Lancaster Roses knew it was finally their time to prove their talent to not only our university but to York as well and to prove why they deserve to compete in Roses indefinitely.

As the York Hornets had enormous success at BCA, the Lancaster Roses knew there would be some tough competition. Due to having mismatched divisions, and although this would never happen at national competition level, it was decided that Ruby would compete against York’s Co-Ed Level 2 and Onyx would compete against York’s all-girl level 3. The atmosphere in the competition hall was ecstatic, supporters filled the audience space and those who couldn’t get in watched the live stream on YouTube. First to compete was the level 2 division. York’s routine consisted of various pyramid formations, virtually faultless lib sequences and a very tight dance section whilst Lancaster’s routine consisted of numerous difficult reload stunts, a complex and almost perfect pyramid sequence and a very impressive basket section. Even due to an illness related pull-out that morning, Ruby managed to perform the routine the best they have thus far. Next up was the level 3 division. York were up first displaying some impressively high basket tosses, some very in-sync suspended forward rolls and managed to pull off a tick-tock lib whilst in a pyramid. Lancaster were up next, bearing in mind the actual competition was the first time the squad was able to perform the revamped routine all together and somehow managed to perform almost impeccably. The routine consisted of an astonishing pendulum stunt, something I have rarely seen in contemporary UK cheerleading competitions, dual base stunts and an inversion lib. The group stunts at level 3 were next to compete with Lancaster going first. Lancaster’s stunt sequence consisted of two single base stunts, a spectacularly high twist basket and a suspended forward roll twist. York’s stunt sequence included a heel stretch lib, a faultless reload into a suspended forward roll and a pike basket. Contestants in this division are also scored on their interchangeability, meaning the cheerleaders were required to embody various positions from flyer, to base, to backspot. With huge anticipation, last up was the pom dance division where York went head-to-head against the undefeatable Lancaster Roses Diamond. York’s routine entailed some impressive formations, jumps and motions, whereas Lancaster’s routine entailed some very original elements such as spelling out ‘’LR’’ with their pom poms, juxtaposing ballet moves with gymnastics and some creative and authentic canons.

After patiently waiting whilst the judges deliberated the scores, the results were finally ready to be announced. In the level 2 division, Lancaster lost by 7 points, in the level 3 division, Lancaster lost by 6 points, in the group stunt division, Lancaster lost by only 1 point, however, in the pom dance division Lancaster WON by 18 points at a score of 168. As expected, Diamond coaches Amy Calderbank and Heather Wright were delighted that their fantastic choreography had placed their squad 1st in every competition they entered this competition season. As York won 3 out of 4 divisions, this meant that, if points were given as they will be next year, York would have won and given points to their overall university’s score. However, for me, I personally think the scoring system should change for next year’s Roses. It seems unfair to place an all-girl squad against a co-ed squad and should therefore use an aggregate score system to consider a fairer competition. Due to Diamond’s vanquish, using an aggregate score would have meant Lancaster winning cheerleading for Roses. This, I believe, is something which should be taken into consideration for Roses 2016.

After the results, the Lancaster Roses and the York Hornets participated in a cheerleading end-of-competition tradition by dancing to the ‘’cupid shuffle’’ and ‘’the wobble’’. Such enjoyment from the cheer tradition subsequently invited a rather entertaining and humorous dance off, or ‘’cheer off’’, between members of each university squads. Not only did this sustain Lancaster Roses’ strong relationship with the York Hornets but shows how essential Roses as a whole must remain a friendly and welcoming competition.

Next year Cheerleading fixtures will get points as Lancaster host for the 52nd Roses in 2016. York Hornets should be watching out for our sting when we prove that roses really are red!

If you missed the event, you can watch the stream here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVPnoLc0fPc.

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