Update: The WolfPack Cheer team placed third in the world for Game Day competition and fourth in the world for University Premier All Girl.
The Thompson Rivers University (TRU) WolfPack Cheer team heads to the International Cheer Union University World Cup Cheerleading Championships in Orlando, Florida Jan. 13-15, hoping to spring British Columbia’s fledgling cheerleading program to new heights.
The WolfPack soared to first- and second-place finishes in two divisions at the 2022 BC Sport Cheer Provincial Championships last March. Those strong performances won the team an invitation to the 2023 World Cup, which welcomes competitors from around the globe.
Cheer coach Meaghan Blakely says the invitation, known as an at-large bid, is a huge accomplishment for a new team in its third season competing at this division.
“We are still a very young program, going up against teams who have competed at this level for years,” says Blakely.
The 28-member team from TRU represents BC Sport Cheer in the traditional Game Day division, and 20 members are also competing in the modern University Premier division — the highest level of difficulty in this Olympic-recognized sport. Most of the team members have not competed at this level before, never mind on the world stage, and to ensure they are up to par, the WolfPack team increased the difficulty level in both their routines.
“We are relying on our pyramids this season,” says Blakely. “We have put a lot of focus on increasing our transition and difficulty. These skills are a large part of the score sheet, and something we lacked. The team has spent countless practices — a lot of sacrifice, sweat and dedication — to get the skills they will be showcasing.”
Returning captain Kayla Zimka leads the high-flying group stunts, while teammates Brooke Topolovec and Madison Wilcott are a strong duo showcasing high-level tumbling. The greater the difficulty, the higher the points, and every second counts. The team also needs to perform with high energy, engage the crowd and execute the gymnastics and use of props — like the ubiquitous pompoms — flawlessly.
“Our goal is to compete with a routine that we can be proud of, and give a good fight. Regardless of our placement, we want to be proud of what we put out on the floor and prove that we are a contender to watch out for. We are the underdogs and are looking to do our province and university proud.”
The WolfPack Cheer team competed at the University World Cheerleading championships in January of 2020 and was eligible for 2021, but it was cancelled due to the pandemic. This is the first year the competition is back.
The team’s fund-raising since March has garnered about $20,000 of the $80,000 trip costs, and the rest is paid by the athletes in addition to their regular season expenses. When they take the mat at the World Cup, they may be rewarded with more attention and growth for cheerleading in BC, which has yet to achieve the popularity the sport sees in Eastern Canada and the US. These student-athletes are laying the groundwork for even bigger dreams next season at TRU.
Check out the TRU WolfPack Cheer Team’s 2022 routines:
Premier division 2022 BC routine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLQDTGRrQO8&t=93s
Game Day division 2022 BC routine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqhsTu_9r1Q&t=105s