Volume 91, Issue 50

Wednesday, November 26, 1997



Cheers for a baker's dozen

©Geoff Robins/Gazette
FORGET ABOUT SEX APPEAL, WE'VE GOT FLEX APPEAL. Western's cheerleaders won yet another national championship on Saturday with creative stunts like the above.

By Alex Chiang

Gazette Staff

Who said 13 is an unlucky number?

Last Saturday, Western's cheerleading team defied superstition by winning their 13th consecutive national cheerleading championship – convincingly beating out the University of Toronto, the meet's runner-up. In all, the Mustangs tallied a point total of 760.5 out of a possible 800, 42.5 points more than second-place Toronto.

Remarkably, Western's contingent has won the championship every year since the event began in 1985, even though David-Lee Tracey, the team's coach, said every season brings a new set of challenges.

"We had a young group of guys and we had to bring them up to speed and we did," Tracey said. "We lost five senior guys from last season and guys take longer to develop because most aren't cheerleaders to begin with, they're ex-football or rugby players. It's not like the girls, who are recruited out of high school."

In addition to having inexperience on the male side of the team, injuries to two of the squad's veteran females also posed an obstacle.

"We had two girls [Amy Newell and Allison Ethier] who broke their hands last month, so even though they competed it presented a training problem," Tracey said. "Even if it is our 13th win, for some people on the team it was their first and there's only one national championship all year, so it's never a problem getting up for it."

The team now hopes to compete at the 1998 National Cheerleaders Association Collegiate National Championships in Daytona Beach, Florida beginning April 1, but although Western has earned a bid for the event, they will need to raise approximately $10,000 in order to attend.

The championship, now in its 20th year, is America's oldest cheerleading competition and Western would be the first Canadian university to ever participate.

"I know the coach really wants to go, but right now it's up in the air as to whether we [will]," Newell, a fourth-year team member, said. "We're looking for sponsorship from companies around London and in the past couple of years we've asked the school and the [University Students' Council] for funding."

Western has already turned some heads in the U.S., winning the United Performance Association's American Cheerleading Championships in 1995 and in March of this year, which were held in Minnesota. The Florida meet, however, attracts much stiffer competition with schools like Villanova and Boston College among the list of participants.

"We want to play in the big leagues," Tracey said. "We'll just have to work our tails hard."

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1997