Challenging perceptions, breaking noses and training without a coach; the Nottingham Knights are demonstrating that cheerleading is a lot more than just pom-poms.
When you think of cheerleading the first thing that will probably spring to mind are films like High School Musical and Bring It On. You might think that Cheerleading might just be about looking pretty on the side of an American football pitch or a basketball court.
But, contrary to this belief, the sport often carries little resemblance with these stereotypes. It is a discipline that requires immense mental and physical strength as well as teamwork and trust in ones teammates.
“We are a sport in ourselves, we throw people in the air, we get black eyes and broken noses at these training sessions.”
Impact Sport caught up with the University of Nottingham’s Cheerleading club president Kat Lewis at the team’s intense four-hour Sunday training session. We witnessed the unbelievable risks taken through lifts and stunts and the hours of practice that goes into executing successful cheerleading routines.
On the misconceptions prevalent in the sport, Nottingham Knights president Kat said, “classically everyone thinks we have pom-poms but we only owned two when I first joined. We are not sideline cheerleaders and we simply we don’t use them.”
“We are a sport in ourselves, we throw people in the air, we get black eyes and broken noses at these training sessions. Most people think we dance around and look pretty, the sport requires you to be mentally and physically strong and people don’t come to realise this because of their conceptions of cheerleading on television and films”, she continued.
— UoN Cheerleading (@UoNCheerleading) November 4, 2016
In terms of whether these misconceptions are deteriorating Kat said, “they aren’t so much in the UK at the minute. In the USA all-star cheerleading has a high profile, we’re trying to achieve [that] in the UK with university teams by running sessions in primary and secondary school to show that it’s not just waving pom-poms around. We want people to know that its a sport for everyone.”
“The fantastic team are able to practice and compete with no help from a coaching team.”
Indeed, cheerleading at the University of Nottingham is very much all inclusive. “Anyone can get involved, we have a competition team which competes against Loughborough, Birmingham and Trent at a national level which is very competitive. The Varsity team is for our beginners where we compete in the half-times against Trent at American Football, Basketball and Ice Hockey.” the president said.
The Nottingham Knights also bring in members from other university sports such as men’s rugby union to their Varsity squad in order to utilise their strength, which enhances the cheerleading team’s lift practising in training.
“Their tireless dedication, hours practising routines and ability to train and compete with only the inspiration of YouTube videos deserve enormous praise.”
Training and competition is unique for the University of Nottingham’s cheerleading squad who were winners of the ICC Easter Championships this year. The fantastic team are able to practice and compete with no help from a coaching team.
— UoN Cheerleading (@UoNCheerleading) November 11, 2016
It makes their tough Wednesday and Sunday training sessions and ability to raise both national competition and varsity squads all the more impressive.
“We’re actually the only team that competes at these competitions without a coach, we learn these stunts off of YouTube and we figure out how to do them.”
It’s evident that there is a lot more grit and determination needed to take part in cheerleading than people may realise. The Nottingham Knights team are a prime example of this as they demonstrate all year round their how cheerleading is not only about much more than just pom-poms on the sidelines.
Their tireless dedication, hours practicing routines and ability to train and compete with only the inspiration of YouTube videos deserve enourmous praise.
As president Kat Lewis said, “it’s an unbelievavbly fun and rewarding team building sport which everyone can get involved with.”
For more information about the cheerleading club on how to join visit: University of Nottingham Cheerleading on Facebook.
Images courtesy of University of Nottingham Cheerleading via facebook.com
Video courtesy of youtube.com