THEY say all good things must come to an end, and sadly, that was true for many of the cheerleaders at CHEER 2015.
Many of them have dedicated the last few years of their schooling lives training to be the best at CHEER, Malaysia’s top school cheerleading competition. So when they graduate, it can be a bittersweet feeling.
Team Vibrant captain Lee Ivy, for example, will not be leading her team out at CHEER 2016.
“It’s really sad that I won’t get to perform at CHEER again, especially after six years in this team. I cried during our final practice because these girls have been my family for so long,” she said.
The 18-year-old from SMK Puteri Titiwangsa cracked a bone in her right arm earlier this year while practicing a round-off back handspring, so for most of the 2015 cheer season, she had to perform her stunts with only one hand – including at CHEER 2015 last Saturday.
But that’s the kind of determination many of the cheerleaders would have picked up over the years practising the sport.
Anselm captain Lee Zhi Wee, 17, from SMK Infant Jesus Convent, said the sport has also given her a greater sense of responsibility.
“I was a swimmer before I joined cheerleading, so this is my first time participating in a team sport, and it has helped me grow a lot as an individual because it’s really important to have teamwork in cheerleading,” she said.
Although Zhi Wee is leaving for Britain to further her studies come January, she is eager to return during her breaks to continue working with her team – that is if they still have a team.
Despite finishing fourth in the highly-competitive All-Girls category at CHEER 2015, Anselm might not have the support they need to continue competing next year.
“We’re currently having problems with getting a teacher advisor for our team next year. Our current teacher advisor Madam Tan has worked really hard for us over the past five years, and it really takes up too much of her time.
“Now, it’s my turn to give back to the team so if my school still has a cheerleading team, I will definitely come back to help out during my summer break,” she said.
On the other hand, Blitzerz cheerleader Amethyst Liew, 14, from SMK Bandar Utama Damansara 4 had to call time on her cheerleading career under different circumstances.
“I will be sitting for PT3 next year and I feel sad about leaving but on the bright side, I want to cherish all the happy moments with my team members. Win or lose, we have improved as individuals, and that’s all that matters,” said Liew, who has grown to love cheerleading, even though she dreaded falling down when she first started.
Former Cyrens captain Amanda Lim, 20, now a pharmacy major in the United States, said the life lessons she learned during her years in competitive cheerleading have continued to influence her.
“It definitely helped me balance my priorities. When you’re a cheerleader, all eyes are on you, and you don’t want to be that stereotypical dumb cheerleader. As long you manage your time well, it is definitely possible to do well in your studies and in cheerleading at the same time,” said Lim, who was Cyrens captain in 2012 when the team won its third CHEER title in a row.
She recalls how difficult it was to stay focused on both sports and studies, and having to sacrifice time out with her friends, but it was all worth it in the end.
“I learned to always smile, and as a captain, I had to always keep my spirits up. I’m also a more confident person overall and I feel well equipped with leadership qualities,” said Lim.
But of course, there is cheerleading life after CHEER. Muhammad Danial Syafiq, 19, has continued cheerleading at All-Star level, for both his college team, IACT Alpha Prime, and All-Star team Awesome Legends. He competed at CHEER 2012 and 2013 with Vulcanz Co-Ed from SMK Seafield.
Apart from coaching teams and competing at international All-Star tournaments, Danial also gets paid to perform at corporate events with Awesome Legends now.
But even then, he said there’s nothing quite like the “great bond” he had with his secondary school team.
“I’m still a proud Vulcanz cheerleader,” he said.