The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack cheerleading team found the podium in Florida earlier this month at the Cheer Union University World Cup.
The 'Pack earned bronze in the All-Girl Game Day division and placed fourth in the Premier All-Girl Team Cheer division, besting last year’s champion from Brock University.
“Premiere was the largest division at worlds. So for us to come fourth was huge, a massive accomplishment for us,” said TRU head coach Meaghan Blakely.
“Being able to go down there and be so successful really showed them that the hard work does pay off. So it's just a very rewarding experience overall. ... They exceeded my expectations, they handled the pressure very well. They stayed calm and level headed. And they didn't let their technique vanish when the adrenaline kicked in. And so that that was fantastic to see.”
The competition was held from Jan. 13 to Jan. 15.
“It was really awesome. Getting to represent my school and our small community of Kamloops at such a large scale level at competition. It's really a great opportunity. I'm super grateful for it,” said WolfPack cheerleader Nadine Arkell.
“Honestly, it was pretty surreal for myself and I think a lot of the other girls on the team, going to Worlds has been a very like long-term dream of ours. ... A lot of us have grown up kind of watching other big universities cheerleading and everything.”
So there's a lot of pressure, but I think the team did a really good job of staying focused and making sure that all of our hard work paid off while we were there.”
The team won an at-large bid from the judges after placing first and second in two divisions at a provincial competition last spring.
“We were quite ecstatic when we won our bid to Worlds,”said Arkell. “For a lot of us, training and competing at this level, it's kind of a once in a lifetime experience. So we really wanted to make the most of it and put our best foot forward when we are down there.”
Arkell said the team would practice twice a day leading up to the competition.
“It was extremely rewarding. The team's been working on this since about March 2022, when they won their bid. So we had a lot of training over the summer months,” said Blakely.
The team also fundraised $20,000 to cover part of the $80,000 cost of the trip, with the athletes paying the rest out of their own pockets.
“We don't get the same funding compared to the U Sports team,” said Blakely.
“If we had that financial support, they could focus purely more on just their student athlete experience. But it's a part of where our sports at right now in Canada, and they are very committed and want to succeed and are willing to, you know, do what it takes.
“We have the means to collect donations and sponsorships from the community. And we have incredible support. But we still have to fundraise a large amount to do what we need to do,” said Blakely.
Blakely said that the team will be going up against the University of Victoria, the premier division’s gold winners, at provincials in February. The squad will then compete in the Sea to Sky Championships in April.