The 2023-24 cheerleading season is officially underway, as Kingston Elite All-Star Cheerleading (KE) enjoyed a successful outing this past weekend at Cheer for the Cure, which saw numerous podium finishes and a World Championship bid for one team. In the first major competition of the season, KE brought nine different teams to Oshawa, all of whom performed very well, according to head coach Laura King.
“All nine of our teams actually finished in the top five within their divisions. So, we had a few teams finish first, [and] a couple in second, third, fourth, and fifth. We’re very happy with all of those results,” she said.
The event, held annually in Oshawa, serves as an opportunity for KE’s teams to show off their new routines while competing for World Cheerleading Championships and Canadian Finals bids. From Saturday, Dec. 2, to Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, the event was split between two days, as each competition was contained to just one day, giving teams a single chance to impress the judges.
King noted, “This was the first competition of the season. For a majority of the teams, it was a one-day competition, which means they only go down there and compete one day.”
The exception was Team Imperial, who competed both Saturday and Sunday, earning a first-place finish in the U18 Small Coed Level 5 division, with a score of 118.52. The team also secured an at-large bid to next year’s World Cheerleading Championships, set for April 26-29, 2024 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
“This team has big goals and they are a super talented group of kids. So, we’re very excited to see what else they have in store for the rest of the year,” King said of Team Imperial’s success.
With a spot at Worlds already in the bag, the team has several other competitions coming up, which will allow them to prepare for the prestigious international competition next spring.
“Before we go to worlds, we still have a few other competitions. We’re going to provincial championships in Kitchener, as well as the national championships, which will be in Niagara Falls, and then we’re also taking them to a competition in Montreal,” King explained.
With hundreds of athletes competing across a number of divisions, KE has a familial feeling for many of its members. Having coached many of the same athletes for multiple years, King noted how rewarding it is getting to watch the children progress in the sport year after year.
“It’s so great to see. Many of the kids started off cheering together on a Level 1 mini team, or a Level 2 youth team… So, to watch them grow through the levels, all the way to get to compete together at the world championships next year… [It’s] going to be truly incredible,” she said.
The 2024 event will not be Team Imperial’s first trip to Worlds; the same squad earned a spot in the 2023 event held earlier this year in Florida, where they finished third place in the U18 Small Coed 5 division competition, with a score of 135.9 in the finals, the club’s first-ever World Championship podium. According to King, this year’s Team Imperial is a mix of new and familiar faces.
“I would say probably two-thirds of [the athletes] were on the team last year and attended the World Championships,” she said. “But, there’s definitely a good chunk of them where this is their first time competing on a Worlds team, and it will be their first time at [the World Championships] next year.”
Imperial wasn’t the only team with a successful outing this past weekend in Oshawa, as KE Teams Frost (U18 Level 4), Scarlet (U16 Level 1B), and Ice (Open Level 3NT), also earned first-place finishes in their respective divisions. The club also took home three additional podium finishes, as Teams Tiffany (U12 Level 2B) and Sky (U18 Level 1B) finished second in their competitions, while Team Lace secured a third-place finish in the U18 Level 2 event.
Meanwhile, Team Steel finished fourth in the U16 Level 3B competition, while Team Rose secured a fifth-place result in the U12 Level 1C division. Up next for the remainder of KE’s team will be the Big East Blast and the Big East Showdown competitions in Ottawa, which will be held on January 27 and 28, 2024, respectively.
While Cheer for the Cure served as the first major competition of the club’s season, King explained the event is “more than just a competition.” The coach added,
“It’s an opportunity for us to showcase the hard work of our athletes while also taking the time to reflect on all the people whose lives have been affected by cancer,” the coach expressed.
Held annually by Canadian Cheer, the Cheer for the Cure seeks to raise funds and awareness for those fighting breast cancer at the same time as serving as an important competition. Each year, a portion of the event’s proceeds are donated to the Canadian Cancer Society.
“It’s an important reminder to our coaches, athletes, and families that we are very fortunate to have the ability to participate in the sport that we all love,” King remarked.