The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack cheerleading team is reaching for new heights, heading to compete next week at an international competition in Florida.
Coach Meaghan Blakely said the WolfPack Cheer team secured their spot at the International Cheer Union University World Cup Cheerleading Championships in Orlando after placing first and second in two divisions at a provincial competition last spring.
The ‘Pack cheerleaders received an at-large bid from the judges, allowing them to compete in the World Cup.
“It felt like a lot of the hard work had paid off. And those bids are hard to come by, you've really got to earn it and put your best foot forward,” Blakely said.
“You're representing the province and BC Sport Cheer and the university. So you want to do them proud, and they’re not just going to hand that out to anyone. So we definitely earned it.”
The competition will be held from Jan. 13 to Jan. 15.
Blakely said the WolfPack cheer athletes have sacrificed and worked hard this fall to prepare for the event, which will see TRU’s relatively young cheer program compete against programs with a lot more seasoning.
Blakely said TRU upgraded its cheer program to compete at a higher level in 2019 and 2020.
“It’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, and it's mind over your body to be at this level, and we're finally seeing the results. And we're hoping to have them peak perfectly next week,” Blakely said.
“It's been very, very strategic, and we're seeing it happen. So all the pieces are coming together, it’s really exciting. And I think they can do it. So now it's on them. They're stepping on that mat, and we just kind of step back at that point, we've done all that we can do as coaches.”
Brooke Topolovec, a flyer and tumbler for the team, said the biggest challenge has been training to perform on a different surface.
“Usually we compete on a sprung floor. But at Worlds, it's on a dead floor. So there's no springs under there. For the tumblers like me, I find it's a lot different tumbling on a dead floor,” Topolovec said.
“That's been really challenging, trying to prepare my body to be able to do the same skills on a dead floor.”
Madison Wilcott, a tumbler and a base for the WolfPack Cheer team, said training for a competition so early in the season has been both physically and mentally challenging.
“I think now the whole team is there. It's finally just wrapping things up, just polishing everything off and getting ready to go,” Wilcott said.
Wilcott said she’s looking forward to performing with the team.
“There's nothing else that compares to the feeling you get as soon as you finish your run. You go off the floor, and you're with your team, and it's just this euphoria you feel afterwards because you feel so good about what you put on the floor. That's what I'm most looking forward to,” Wilcott said.
Blakely said her goal is to have the cheer team put their best foot forward during the competition and come away proud of their performance.
“Of course they're looking for a perfect run, everything just going flawless. But as long as we can put our best foot forward, if we have a mistake or two, that's okay,” she said.
“I want to see my team show up, step up to the plate, put your best foot forward and show everyone what you are capable of. You only really get one shot at this, so I want them to have that moment, and sense of pride.”
Cheer captain Kayla Zimka, who is also a flyer and tumbler for the team, said it’s important for the athletes to support one another no matter the outcome.
“Being in a captain role, I really want to make sure that no matter what happens out there, everyone knows that they did their best and we went out there and gave it our all,” Zimka said.
Kamloops residents can keep up with the WolfPack cheer team’s performance next weekend by following them on Instagram.