With the 2021 Cheerleading Worlds in Florida concluding yesterday, a south west London team aims to demonstrate the true nature of the sport.
London Dynasty Cheer was founded in 2020 to allow adults to discover or continue cheerleading, whilst making friends.
The Stockwell-based team are keen to dispel common myths surrounding the sport, which is currently awaiting Olympic approval.
“There are definitely no pom poms,” said Grace Lowe, 25, owner and head coach.
“It’s a mix of gymnastics and dance. The worlds teams just have the most amazing routines every year.”
Unlike sideline cheerleaders, who support at sports matches, competitive squads perform routines against other teams.
These consist of stunts, gymnastics, and dance and are scored based on performance and technique to decide on a winner.
Far from the stereotypes seen on screen, cheerleaders are athletes and the sport requires fitness, strength, and flexibility.
The athletes at London Dynasty Cheer also emphasised that it was not just for girls.
Jeff Evangelista, a squad member, said: “I think cheer is for everybody, there are a lot more guys trying it out.
“I’ve been inspired watching the worlds teams. Of course I’d want to go one day.”
Lowe, Emma Moore, 24, and Joanna Haeger, 26, founded the club during the 2020 coronavirus lockdown.
They missed the sport itself but also the social aspect, which was an integral part of their time at university.
“It was the most amazing experience of our lives and we just wanted to carry that on for people,” said Haeger, who has previously competed at the World Championships.
The team prides itself on being like a family and maintained regular contact when their training was stopped following the November 2020 lockdown.
They hosted Zoom socials, training sessions, and set weekly challenges ranging from burpees to baking.
They were excited to be reunited in April for outdoor training, keeping athletes safe through Covid protocols which include regular testing and sanitising every 15 minutes.
Both training and socialising are better in person, Haeger said.
She added: “We wanted a little family to cheer with, and to be able to go to the pub with too.”
Photos courtesy of Adèle Spicer.