Story and images by Erich Eichhorn (ISN)
February 4, 2016 Victoria, BC (ISN) – Victoria’s Island Elite Cheerleading club returned to Victoria last Monday much the wiser for the world class experience taken from the ATC International Cheerleading event held last weekend in Bellevue, Washington.
Island Elite’s senior team performs on day 2 of competition at the ATC International Cheerleading Championships – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Amongst the show of glitter, bows and bobby pins, male and female athletes gave their all with the stamina of dancers and the acrobatic technique of competitive gymnasts, flipping, twisting and stunting with the hopes of a top individual or team award over the three day event that saw hundreds of competitors from all over the west coast of North America flock to one of the largest meets in the Pacific North West.
The newly formed Island Elite Cheer team contingent from Victoria, comprised of a 16 junior level-2 and 20 senior level-3 members strutted their stuff against the stiff competition of the much more seasoned USA squads, performing in their first competition since the Island Elite Cheer was formed six months ago.
The junior team performs a pyramid in their competition on day 2 of competition – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
The 20 member senior team shows there stuff in front of a convention centre hall packed with spectators and competitors – Erich Eichhorn (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Hoping for long term gain going into the weekend’s meet, Island Elite’s primary focus was to the find value the learning experience only found in competing against championship caliber competition.
By all accounts, Elite Cheer would exceed expectations with inspiring performances all around.
Kiara Eichhorn warms up with a back hand spring before going on stage with her junior teamates – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
In day one action, Island Elite’s Natalie Louis, also a member of the level 3 team group, would take 2nd place in the Individual Level 5 event to break the ice for her team.
Island Elite’s Natalie Louis poses for cameras as she receives her 2nd place award in the Individual Level 5 category – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
During day two competition a cohesive Island Elite Junior team, with only two members bringing previous competition experience to the stage, would standout considering their lack of experience, taking ninth place in the Small junior Level 2-B, despite many members contending with flu-like illness throughout the weekend competition. The more experienced Senior co-ed team, would finish seventh, against a strong field of seasoned competition in the higher Senior Level 3-B.
Junior team members launch their flyer in front of a judging panel – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
When asked about their team’s performances on the weekend, co-owner/co-coach of Island Elite Kate Bell would comment, “We are extremely happy with how both teams performed. ATC (All Things Cheer) is a huge event and considered Nationals by many gyms that attend. Island Elite was the only brand new program in attendance.”
A senior team member performs a stunt in front of the ATC back drop as four teamates give her a base to stand on – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
“We were up against huge, well known programs from the States so we knew it wasn’t about placing, but about the experience of being on the floor. We really saw our athletes come out of their shells and perform which was amazing. They didn’t let the huge crowd intimidate them but instead they fed off of it. We are just so proud! “, Bell would add.
Already looking ahead to their next meet, Island Elite will use what they learned from their weekend south of the border in preparation for this spring’s Sea to Sky International Cheer and Dance Championships in Vancouver, BC at Canada Place.
When asked what is in store for the team in the months leading to Vancouver Bell would offer, “we are going to add in some difficulty to our routines now that we have hit what we have choreographed. We’re also going to spend some time while we can to focus on tumbling for the juniors and just clean and perfect as much as we can. “
Members of the Island Elite junior team pose after the days competition with co-coach/co-owner Mishan Hedge – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
The first step always being the hardest, Island Elite’s first step is a definitive, positive step forward in what appears to be a bright future for competitive cheer in the Greater Victoria area.
Sea to Sky International Cheer and Dance Championships take place April 8th-10th, 2016 at Canada Place, Vancouver, BC.
For more information on Island Elite Cheer go to www.islandelitecheerleading.com