A group of young South Coast cheerleaders will bound onto the stage at the Global Dance and Cheer Games to be held in Hawaii in May.
The Shoalhaven Cheer Academy’s Youth Level 1 Diamond team has been selected to represent Australia at the four-day international tournament that will include a welcoming ceremony, Parade of Nations and cultural exchanges, followed by two days of competitions capped off by a spectacular Cultural Celebration Luau.
Diamonds coach Scarlett Tebbutt said the competition was a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for the academy’s most talented athletes – 11 girls and one boy aged seven to 12 years – who have worked hard together.
“It is an incredible opportunity for these athletes who I have worked alongside, supported and witnessed their hard work and dedication to their sport to reach such a high level,” she said.
“Diamonds always put in an outstanding amount of effort into everything they do and make every training session beneficial, to not only themselves but their teammates and myself.
“These kids put in the work at home to achieve the results they have in the 2023 season, achieving places in every competition they attended throughout the season.
“To say I am proud is an understatement.”
Scarlett said the Global Games was a huge competition for the “best of the best in both cheer and dance” with teams from every country and every level.
“This is so much more than just a competition; it is an unforgettable experience to make memories with teammates and to meet cheerleaders from around the world,” she said.
“As an athlete myself who has competed in New Zealand, it is such an incredible environment to be around cheerleaders from outside your state and country. It’s amazing to be able to see the different routines and make new cheer friends who you wouldn’t usually see at state competitions.”
An excited Diamond, Alexis Smith, said the team’s hard work had paid off.
“I am so proud of how far we have all come. I can’t wait to make more memories with Diamonds,” she said.
“I feel grateful for the opportunity and proud of myself and the team,” Diamond, Harper Andriske added.
“It’s an honour to be part of the team and to represent SCA, the Shoalhaven, NSW and Australia.”
Cheerleading is not just about flips and pom-poms and, while her students may make it look easy, Scarlett said it was “no easy sport”.
“Cheer involves many aspects of physical and mental strength,” she said.
“These athletes compete a two-and-a-half-minute routine beginning with opening, followed by group stunt, pyramid, standing and running tumble and finishing it off with an end dance to show their stamina and endurance throughout the whole routine.
“The Diamonds are made up of all abilities and talent but they are specifically competing in Level 1 which consists of cartwheels and front and back walkovers.”
Scarlett has set up a GoFundMe account and the academy will also be holding fundraisers with the hope of raising $50,000 before May.
“Obviously this amazing opportunity comes at a great cost to families at this financially trying time and not the whole team can possibly afford to go,” she said.
“All we want is the best for our kids, to inspire other kids, show anything is possible with hard work and dedication.”
Scarlett said cheerleading was a rapidly growing sport in Australia, offering opportunities for athletes of all abilities and all levels.
“I believe cheer is really popular due to the sense of community and confidence it builds in an individual,” she said.
“Without one athlete the whole routine does not work. The whole team is involved in performing the routine and everyone is of equal importance.”
She said the sport could improve participants’ athleticism, teamwork and social skills as well as providing a “sense of belonging to a team, being a part of something bigger and working with others towards a shared goal”.