It was dream come true for two Fergus teens who recently competed in the World Cheerleading Championships last month, bringing home gold.
Lexi Hamilton 15, and 16-year-old Avery May represented teams from Cheer Sport Sharks – All Star Cheerleading Gym in Kitchener.
“It was so much fun. It’s everyone’s goal to win the Worlds,” said Hamilton, who competed with her team, the Small Fin Sharks Team.
“I can’t wait to try out again next season.”
The competition, held in Orlando, Florida, last month, saw 539 teams compete from 18 countries.
Hamilton and May attend Centre Wellington District High School.
Although competing on separate teams, they now share something special. They are both world champion cheerleaders.
May won her first world championship last year at the competition.
“It’s an incredible feeling. It is honestly such a proud moment knowing that all of your hard work has finally paid off,” May said.
“And not just the hard work throughout the season. I’ve been cheering for 11 years. Going into my 12th year, this everything that I have ever dreamt of since I was little.”
The Grade 10 student, who cheers for her co-ed team, the Star Spotted Sharks, and says cheerleading is all about the memories made with her teammates.
“They become a family. There are 24 team members on my team. They are the ones I trust the most,” May said.
“I will go them for anything. It’s such a safe space. When I’m having a rough day, I’ll got to cheer practice, and everything becomes better. The people, the bonds I have made, it’s been so amazing.”
Cheer Sport Sharks continues to be a leader in the cheerleading world. Since 2003, the gym provides a fun and safe environment for children 3 and up and offers the opportunity to build confidence and physical strength through athleticism and artistry.
Cheer Sport Shark coaches encourage athletes to be both courageous competitors and supportive team players, igniting lifelong friendships.
“It’s pretty exciting for them. Just like any sport, you are off to competitions all the time. And then there’s the cost. But it’s all well worth it, especially when they win,” said May’s mother Jennifer.
“They start young and work their way up to a Worlds team. Avery was fortunate. Her team won a back-to-back championship this year and that was such an amazing accomplishment for them and for their coach.”
Hamilton says she really enjoys the competitiveness of the sport.
“When I first started, I was seven. Seeing it for the first time, I thought wow, this is really cool. I tried out and that was it,” Hamilton said.
“What I like about cheerleading is seeing my teammates. They are my friends. We are all so super close. We train together all year."
Hamilton’s father, Jay, says it was a very special moment to see his daughter win a world championship.
“She’s been in it for awhile. It really is the 'Olympics' of their sport. So, it was fantastic,” Jay said.
“This sport is very physical, with a little bit of risk. The things that they do and the skills that they develop are really amazing.”
Hamilton and May train for two and a half hours, three times a week.
“Cheerleading help socialize kids,” May’s mother Jennifer said.
“When Avery first started, she was five and an introvert. This sport really brings the extrovert out in kids because it teaches them teamwork. You lose together, and you win together.”
Jennifer is proud to see the growth in her daughter Avery as a world class athlete over the years.
“What I love the most is when you go to a competition, all teams cheer for one another. There’s a camaraderie there. That sportsmanship really comes out,” she said.
“Every sport has its story, but we are just so fortunate to be in one that Avery loves. She is inspired by her coaches and she wants to continue to do the same. It’s all about inspiring and inspiring to be better.”
Following in her sister’s footsteps, May is hoping to coach cheerleading.
“Ever since first winning last year, when I see all of the new cheerleaders, I really want them to experience this too,” May said.
“That feeling has really made me want to become more involved in coaching, to help little boys and girls achieve their dreams too. Because it really is such a special feeling.”