The newest in our This Girl Can inspired series features Charli, another of our lovely ISWAI brand ambassadors. Dancing from a young age she's now a member the University of Bristol's award winning Bristol Jets (you can check them out on Instagram HERE), so we got the lowdown on why she thinks more girls should get involved!
How did you get into cheerleading?
I have danced for pretty much my whole life and even though I didn’t want to pursue it as a career I also wasn’t ready to give it up when I started university. I actually planned on joining the dance society and team, but decided to go along to the Bristol Jets’ cheer trial session for a bit of fun in fresher’s week and found out that it had a competitive pom squad, which is a dance team, and enjoyed it so much that when I realised dance and cheerleading clashed I chose cheer!
How has it become such a big part of your life?
I think that because pom squad is such a small team (there are only 12 members) you get to know everyone really well so a lot of my closest friends are cheerleaders, and our committee organises socials every week so it forms a big part of my social life as well. Obviously we spend a lot of time together at training too where we have to really focus on perfecting our routine, and it also provides a great release from my academic work which I really value.
What do you enjoy most about cheerleading?
I love the competitions! I have always loved being on stage and performing and cheerleading competitions have such a vibrant atmosphere which makes performing our routine feel even better; it’s like a really grand finale for a year of hard work. Also, I love seeing the routines of all the other teams; cheerleading is really gaining popularity in the UK and it’s exciting to see how much higher the standard gets every year.
What’s the biggest goal you’ve achieved within sport?
I am always incredibly proud of our team wherever we place, but winning University Nationals last year and being the national champions was such a highlight; it was just the best feeling! It sounds clichéd but as long as we do our routine the best we can then I’m happy, but winning is just the icing on the cake!
Why do you think more girls should get into sport?
Personally, doing a sport provides me with an invaluable break from uni; I love my course but it can be very hard work and going to cheer practice always helps me to unwind a bit. Even though it can be physically hard I always feel better and more relaxed after exercising and spending time with my teammates. I don’t think that’s unique to cheerleading either; everyone I know agrees that doing some form of exercise makes them feel better in the long run.
Do you have a female sporting icon?
Even though I am a cheerleader now, my first sport was ballet and for years I’ve admired Michaela DePrince, who is a ballet dancer. She did not have a remotely easy ride to achieve her goals, but is now a member of the Dutch National Ballet and an amazing dancer, so I really admire her grit and determination. She let absolutely nothing get in her way and I think that can be applied to so much- sport or not.
Is there any other sport you'd like to try out?
I think if I could do any other sport I'd love to try boxing; it looks like it would be a great way to de-stress and let out all your frustrations but would also be an amazing workout!
Finally, would you say to any girl who is thinking about taking up cheerleading?
I would say that it’s important to ignore the stereotypes surrounding it; a lot of people do have a certain image of a cheerleader in their head but from my experience it’s a sport that attracts every kind of person. It’s also ideal because you can start at any age and level, meaning you don’t need any previous experience in order to take part and train with people of the same ability as you, and having a clear goal- the routine- to work towards really helps to motivate you to work hard and improve.
Follow Charli and her cheerleading action HERE
And if you're involved in a sport that you'd love to share with us, then drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org for the chance to be featured in our This Girl Can blog series!