Junior Halie Breninger prepares with KC Cheer to compete at Worlds Cheer Competition

Competitive cheerleader explains her experiences at competitions and goals for those to come

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What got you involved with cheerleading in the first place?

I did gymnastics for eight years before cheer, and then I started cheering in middle school, and once I got kind of burned out on gymnastics, I decided I’d try competitive cheer, which is a lot of the same tumbling as gymnastics. I started club cheerleading a year ago, so my sophomore year.

What is the name of your competitive cheer team?

We’re called KC Cheer; that’s the club that I cheer at. My team individually is called the Fierce Five.

How would you describe competitive cheer?

It’s sort of like high school cheer, I guess you could say. We do stunts, which is [when] we lift the girls up in the air, but we also do high-level stunts. And then we do tumbling, which is flips, and I guess people wouldn’t really understand that until they took a class on it or something. And then we do jumps, which is a big part of cheer.

What are the differences between high school cheer and competitive cheer?

I think that the biggest difference would be the difficulty … There are some teams in competitive cheer that are the same difficulty or harder than high school cheer. The commitment level’s also a lot different. I go probably 12 hours a week for a competitive cheer squad, whereas high school cheer is not near that much. High school cheer is definitely sideline, which is where we cheer for a team. [In] a competitive team, you don’t cheer for anyone in particular; you’re kind of your own sport, which I like about it a lot. You compete for the best score against other teams. It’s based off of level of difficulty, and then technique is a big part of it; they watch how everything is constructed together.

How would you describe a typical cheer competition?

There are tons of people, and it’s usually in an arena setting, so there’s a floor in the middle and seats around like a football field, but usually indoors. When you walk in, it’s dark because the floor is the lit-up place for the cheerleaders, because when you go on the floor you want to be the center of attention. It’s loud and upbeat.

What do you enjoy about being in that kind of atmosphere?

Well, for me, I’m a really loud and upbeat person, and I like it because you get your two-and-a-half minutes to show the world what you can do. It’s exciting because during those two-and-a-half minutes, everyone is cheering for you.

What was the competition you recently went to?

That was the [Universal Cheerleaders Association] Competition in Orlando. UCA is [for] any level [team], so there was anywhere from babies … all the way up to level five, the best in the country. This was probably our biggest competition before Worlds, which is a big deal because we need to practice for that.

What is the Worlds Cheer Competition?

Only level 5 teams go to Worlds, which is … the biggest event there is for cheerleading that’s made so far. You have to go to a national competition before you can even go to Worlds, and you have to get at least an at-large bid. Which is, from what I believe, at-large bids don’t give you any money, it’s just an invitation to Worlds. … Since we got the full-paid bid, we got it all paid for by the [staff of the] competition, a lot like [a scholarship].

How does Worlds differ from a typical competition?

[It] definitely [does]. It’s, I want to say, the Olympics of cheer as of now. There are cheer gyms from all over the world. There are people from Australia and from Japan there, and it’s a really big deal. So if you’ve been there, you’re pretty lucky and some cheerleaders dream about going there. It’s really great to get an opportunity to go there. You see the best of the best teams, so the stakes are way higher.

What is it like to be a part of such a big competition?

This is my first year going, I’m really excited and really nervous. It’s televised … it’s a big deal. It’s kind of scary [because] it’s a make-it or break-it kind of thing.

What is difficult about competitive cheer?

I think the most difficult part of competitive cheer would be the focus, the mental state of it. Everything that comes along with stunting and tumbling has a mental aspect, so if you can’t get your mind on part of doing something, it’s hard to be good at it.

What do you enjoy about cheer overall?

There’s a lot of things I enjoy about cheer overall. I guess my favorite part is performing for people, and getting to show everyone what my team and I can do. It’s exciting to know that you have a certain set of skills that some people aren’t able to do, and it’s exciting to see the people who look up to you for what you can do.

Is there anything else you’d like people to know about competitive cheer?

A lot of people don’t think that cheer’s a sport, and I get that, but I think that if people were more persuaded to watch a competitive cheer competition, they’d be surprised how difficult the things we have to do are and how amazing it is to watch. I’m not saying that my team’s the best, but there are some really good teams out there, and it is awesome to get the opportunity to watch them.

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