Even as beginners, the cheer teams from the Muskoka Elite Cheer and Tumbling Club are making impressive strides in their sport.
Muskoka Elite Cheer and Tumbling is the first competitive cheerleading club in Muskoka that offers elite all-star cheerleading. “It is different than traditional sideline cheer,” said coach Tony Bentley. “It is strictly competitive and involves creating a routine which includes stunts, tumbling, jumps, pyramids, and a dance into a 2:30 minute routine and competing that routine against other teams of similar ages and abilities.”
Cheerleading has been provisionally recognized by the International Olympic Committee and Bentley believes the sport will be in the 2024 Olympic Summer Games. Cheer teams are divided into six age divisions―Tiny, Mini, Youth, Junior, Senior and Open―with seven levels of difficulty to compete at.
The current Muskoka Elite Cheer & Tumbling teams―Senior Hawks, Junior Dawn, Mini Minnows, and Shooting Stars―all compete at Level 1.
On December 7-8, the Muskoka Elite Cheer teams travelled to Oshawa to compete in the Cheer for the Cure against clubs from across Ontario in one of Canada’s top cheer competitions.
The Senior Hawks team comprises beginner cheer athletes but they worked so well together that they earned an impressive second place finish in their division for their very first competition to bring home a silver medal.
The Junior Dawn team (pictured above) was precluded from competing in their division due to a technicality and were only scored as a non-competitive team.
“When the final score results of their division were published, we were thrilled to learn that they had earned a score which would have garnered them a second place finish had they been ranked against their peers. Another exceptional outcome,” said Bentley.
The Mini Minnows team finished sixth place out of ten other competing teams in their division, while the Shooting Stars team finished with the 11th spot out of 12 teams.
“All teams had zero-deduction routines which means they were not deducted for any mistakes for mishaps. A very impressive outcome for teams full of beginners,” said Bentley.
Tillie Thomson, a grade 2 student at Riverside, and other members of her team shared what they like best about being part of a cheer team: they like the stunting and tumbling the best; they all really like their coach and everyone on their team; and they think cheer is fun and challenging.
Wilson and Lauchlyn Trenholm, both students at the Muskoka Montessori School, compete on the Junior Dawn team.
“I enjoy cheerleading because I can make a lot of new friends in a fun environment,” said Wilson, the only boy on a Muskoka Elite Cheer team and one of only a handful at the competition. “I like it too so I can get stronger and more flexible. Being the only boy on our Muskoka Elite team is pretty hard but it is rewarding as it is a good challenge. I hope other boys get the courage to try cheerleading like I did and realize how great it is.”
His sister Lauchlyn likes cheerleading because she makes a lot of new friends and has a lot of fun dancing and doing gymnastics. She also likes that cheerleading integrates dance, gymnastics and some cool stunts all into one. “I still do gymnastics to improve my tumbling in cheerleading so I can have more fun,” she said.
Muskoka Elite Cheer & Tumbling attracts athletes from across Muskoka. Winter recreational cheer classes begin in January; registration for 2020/2021 teams opens in March. “There are several families who travel into Bracebridge each week to participate in this amazing sport. Most are concentrated on our Mini Minnows and Junior Dawn teams,” said Bentley.
Bentley has many years of experience and wants to share it with the cheer athletes. He is a former member of an Open Co-ed Level 6 team and he competed at the World Championships three times, placing top 10 in the Worlds twice and top three in Canada three times as well. He coached a team to the World Championships in 2018. He is a sitting member of the Cheer Canada Scoring Committee and has judged competitions, including the Junior World Championships in Orlando 2019. “I’m a certified safety judge with the International All Star Federation and a certified cheer coach with the International Cheer Union, certified to level seven. I’m excited to bring my knowledge and expertise to Muskoka.”
Learn more at MuskokaElite.com.
Don’t miss out on Doppler!
Sign up here to receive our email digest with links to our most recent stories.
Local news in your inbox three times per week!