MCHS is hosting Cheer Provincials this spring

Above and below: Morinville Community High School’s Cheer Team practices their routines on Monday, Feb. 6, after taking four first-place wins at CheerFest in Athabasca on Feb. 4. – Stephen Dafoe Photos

by Stephen Dafoe

The Morinville Community High School (MCHS) Cheer team returned from Athabasca on Feb. 4 with four first-place finishes. MCHS took first place in Game Day and All-Girl Division for their zone and the CheerFest competition overall.

“It [the competition] acts as both our north central zone qualification and the CheerFest cheer competition,” explained MCHS Cheer coach Amanda Bulger. “This year, we have a very hard-working group of young ladies. We have 18 athletes ranging from grades 9 to 12.”

But the four wins are not the only point of pride for the school regarding cheer. The school will host this year’s provincials.

That event, taking place at the Morinville Leisure Centre (MLC) on Apr. 14 and 15, will see between 12 and 16 teams competing, each consisting of five to 30 athletes.

It is the first time the school has hosted a provincial competition since the 1990s.

“We put in a bid to host back in 2019. The plan was to host in April of 2021, but when Covid hit in 2020, the Provincial Championship was cancelled only weeks before it was set to go,” Bulger said. “So the teams that were set to host before us got the opportunity to host before it came to us.”

Bulger said she sees the upcoming provincials as a good opportunity for the team, school, and community.

“Due to the specific requirements needed for a cheer competition to run, we never had the opportunity, as we never had the physical space here in Morinville,” Bulger explained, noting that the competition needs a complete set of mats for teams to warm up and practice on right before they go onto the competition mat. “So without two gyms or a large enough space in one building, it just wasn’t an option for us. With the Morinville Leisure Centre, that changed things and gave us the opportunity to place a bid to host.”

Bulger and the team are excited to bring the Provincial Championships to Morinville and build awareness of the sport of cheerleading.

“We have three successful cheer programs here in town, at St. Kateri, G.H. Primeau and MCHS, so it will be nice to get the word out so people can come to check it out for themselves and see what the world of cheer is all about,” Bulger said.

The Apr. 14 and 15 event is open to the public, and Bulger said she would love to fill up the bleachers at the MLC.

“The competitions will be held on the arena side of the MLC, so there will be plenty of room for spectators to come and check it out,” Bulger said, noting tickets will be sold at the door.

Although the time is yet to be determined, Bulger said the competition would start on Friday evening with Day 1 of the ASAA (Alberta Schools Athletic Association) Highschool Provincial Cheerleading Championships. Saturday morning will start with the ACA (Alberta Cheerleading Association) Elementary and Junior High Provincial Championships.

“Both the teams from St. Kateri and G.H. Primeau will be competing in this event,” Bulger said. “The Elementary and Junior High event will consist of one event, with awards being presented at the end. Then on Saturday afternoon, Day 2 of the ASAA Highschool Provincial Cheerleading Championships will commence.”

High school teams will compete on Days 1 and 2 with scores tabulated and awards given based on teams’ two-run totals.

MCHS will compete in two divisions this year: the All Girls Advanced Division and the Game Day Division.

“The All Girl Advanced routine is a two-and-a-half-minute routine consisting of a cheer, stunts, tumbling, jumps and dance,” Bulger said. “The Game Day routine is three minutes and consists of four shorter routines that would be performed on the sidelines of a sporting event. The stunts and tumbling are not as elaborate and complex due to the nature of the division, but Game Day has become a personal favourite of mine due to the high energy and crowd-leading aspect of it.”

Bulger said the upcoming competition would bring MCHS up against some of the best high school teams in the province. “It’s sure to be an impressive event showcasing a great amount of talent,” she said.

The MCHS Cheer Team is currently looking for sponsors to partner to help offset some of the event costs. Those interested in becoming sponsors can contact Morinville Community High School.

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