Cheerleading, part of the wave of American culture arriving on UK shores, has a strong and loyal following for Queen Mary’s Angels
Coached by Clare Winder, The QM Angels are a group of just over 100 students, both male and female, split up into four teams depending on the level they compete in: Fantasy, Destiny, Envy, and Royalty. If you’ve ever considered cheerleading to be a sideline activity, then you should attempt watching these sportsmen and sportswomen gracefully jump and soar in and out of the air and to their potential deaths. Combining gymnastics, stunting and dance, competitive cheerleading is not for the faint-hearted. The routine for a competition is a tasking, engaging two and a half minutes long.
Weeks and weeks of training go into developing not only the dynamic of choreography, precision, and timing, but the chemistry in-between team members; there has to be trust between the flyers being thrown and lifted and the side bases, and the front and back spots lifting them up. For the QM Angels, all of this hard-work was definitely demonstrated at their performance at the Winter Wonderland: Future Cheer competition by their first place victory in their category (Open Co-ed Level 3) on 6 December 2015. The required practices are a strenuous three and a half hours at a time, with additional sessions of gymnastics and general fitness training scattered all throughout the week. This only intensifies during competition time; Royalty even endured a twelve hour training session a few days before the competition.
The actual competition itself brings a roaring atmosphere. Royalty team member (and captain of intermediate team Fantasy) Ines Fournon says that the energy of the day felt: “So strangely calm because I knew we were going to do well. The stunts were hitting and the routine looked great.” As soon as the team hit the stage, she explains, there was an atmosphere of “concentration and excitement in all of us.” Supporters and friends came to watch the performance, filling the event with volumes of not only the fast-paced, mixed dance music cheerleaders have to follow, but yells and screams of encouragement and support. Not even ten seconds into the routine, the energy was already at a high with backward springs, jumps, and people high in the air on one leg, all happening on the same mats at the same time, all of it looking seamless.
Much like any other sport, cheerleading involves injuries, and this time round was no different when not only was one member’s neck was wounded, but another cheerleader’s arm was placed in a brace. Despite this, our cheerleaders did what they do best: gathered up their spirit, put on a uniform, doused themselves in glitter and gave their all (and yes, one cheerleader did indeed compete with an arm brace). Roxy Baker, president of the QM Angels expressed her pride: “I am so, so proud of our elite team which became regional champions of London! They worked so hard to hit a fantastic routine and they hit!” The QM Angels welcome anyone at any level to try out at the beginning of each season, and build confident, dedicated athletes by inviting you into the sport, encouraging you to improve, and building it into you to better yourself.
Image: QM Angels