Members of the first Saskatchewan cheerleading team to win gold at the Cheerleading Worlds are on cloud nine as they reflect on their historic competition.
Rebels Cheerleading Athletics’ team Smoke won on Monday in the International Open All-Girl Level Five division.
On Tuesday afternoon, some team members starting arriving back home in Regina.
“It’s surreal, it’s exciting and it’s very thrilling,” Ainsley Remple, a backspot on Smoke, said. “This is just a great moment in history.”
Eric Bestvater, the owner of Rebels Cheerleading Athletics and coach of Smoke, said the feeling of winning is indescribable.
“We’re the first team from our province to ever even qualify for finals, which is the second day of the competition, and then we managed to bring home the gold,” Bestvater said. “We are literally on top of the world.”
Bestvater said heading into the competition, they didn’t know what caliber the other teams would be, so they were only focused on their own routine.
After learning his team was in first place after day one, Bestvater said they realized the gold medal was within reach.
“We were just like, ‘Woah, we can do this, let’s keep them focused,’” he said. “The girls really showed up. They did great, they stayed calm and they did what they needed to do.”
Remple, who has competed at Worlds before, said there’s always a certain level of nerves heading into the competition.
“At first, it’s always a little intimidating. The stage is huge, the crowds are massive. You’re there to see the best of the best in the world,” she explained. “But then you get there and everyone is so supportive.”
Many of the athletes on the team, which is made up of 15 girls, have been cheering for the better part of a decade.
Bestvater said the past couple of seasons have been challenging because of COVID-19, which led them to losing some team members who decided to move on from the sport.
“The silver lining is that those 15 athletes were so tight, the bond they had was just incredible, and that really shone through in their performance this week and I think was the key to our victory,” he said.
Jaylen Nurse, based on Smoke, said she always had faith that her team could do well at Worlds.
“I just think that this shows that no matter where you come from, no matter how small the city is, no matter how big the gym is, no matter how small the gym is, talent doesn’t come from that. Talent comes from who you are and how much work you put in,” Nurse said.
Rempel said she wouldn’t have wanted to compete alongside anyone else.
“I really love my team. I have great coaches,” she said. “I just don’t think I would want to do it with any other group of girls.”
Some athletes, including Rempel, are hanging up their cheer shoes for good after this season. Others will return to the mat again, in search of another Worlds ring.
Regardless of their future, the team is proud they will always be part of the record books.
“Making history – that’s huge. Who gets to do that? Rempel said. “It’s just a huge moment in Saskatchewan cheerleading.”