The cauldron may have burned out at the Olympics, but the fire to excel still burns here in Westwood, both in traditional forms of sport and in evolving ones.
Take cheerleading, for example. While some of you might not think of it as a sport, exactly, cheerleading has already been recognized by the International Olympic Committee and has a field of competitive teams the world over. It might even be introduced as a new sport at the 2020 games.
In the meantime, a surprising number of Westwood girls are actively ‘cheering’ their way to success with Winnipeg Dynamite Cheerleading.
Winnipeg Dynamite is a labour of love for its coach and founder Sarah Tasker. Based in the Westdale Community Centre, the club draws in girls from Charleswood and St. James as well as other parts of the city. Some of the local Dynamite members attend WMES, Sansome, St. Charles, Robert Browning, Lincoln and Golden Gate schools as well as Westwood Collegiate.
The club began in 2006 with just nine teenagers and has exploded over the past few years; 140 girls — from three years old to adults — enrolled this season.
If your idea of cheerleading includes pompoms, times have changed. Routines are a choreographed blend of gymnastics, dance and stunt elements — it’s actually kind of crazy what these kids can do!
The official cheer accessory is now a hair bow — often a reward for hard work and positive attitude. Coach Tasker says her No. 1 aim is that her Dynamite girls have a place to feel good about themselves, to have fun and to push themselves to achieve new goals.
At a recent tournament in Steinbach, Dynamite athletes were... well... dynamite!
They brought home two first place trophies, two second place trophies, a third place trophy and several individual awards.
The club is now preparing to host its own annual tournament — Cheer Explosion — on March 8 at Max Bell Centre at the University of Manitoba.
Tasker says the tournament is a great opportunity for the athletes to shine. It’ll be bittersweet for some cheerleaders — the season winds down in April — but dedicated tumblers will be at it all over again come September.
If you want to know more about Cheer Explosion or Winnipeg Dynamite, go to dynamitecheer.ca or email Sarah Tasker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sharon Pfeifer is a community correspondent for Westwood. You can contact her at email@example.com