After a whirlwind start to the year and only four months after being formed, the Maties Cheerleading squad came second in the Tertiary All Girl category at the SAMCA's national competition in Durban this past weekend.
The squad, consisting of 15 members (all Maties students), were formed this year under the guidance of Jessica Zoo, founder of Cheerobics®. Cheerobics is a fun fitness class which serves as a foundation for cheerleading.
“I'm elated," said Jessica. “A second place against teams that have been established for a number of years is extraordinary."
She is not surprised about the result, though.
“These Stellenbosch girls have more dedication and drive than any team I have coached before."
Apart from taking part in competitions, the squad also performed at Varsity Cup home games.
“We had an intense start to the year because we had to fit in a year's worth of training into four months: induction training, choreography, Varsity Cup performances and three regional competitions."
Jessica believes a local cheer squad consisting of students and fans has a lot of value.
“It provides an excellent way for those with dance, gymnastics and fitness skills to use them towards a goal. Stellenbosch has such a heritage of sport and it's great to become part of this legacy. Plus, what an honour to be ambassadors of Stellenbosch University."
She herself only became involved with cheerleading at university.
“I caught a major case of the 'cheer bug' and haven't looked back since. I've been a coach since 2004 and have become a little obsessed with getting people to find their inner cheerleader and, once they do, to maximise their athletic potential for this fantastic sport.
“Cheerleading in South Africa is developing slowly and still has a way to go for the overall standard to be increased throughout. The aims for Maties Cheerleading are to develop an exemplary all-girl cheer team in South Africa, to showcase what side line cheerleading (cheering at games) and cheer dance can look like at a professional level and to develop and grow a team of coaches who can then mentor and develop cheerleading in the local community."
Jessica also presents Cheerobics classes at Maties Gymnasium which, among other things, serves as a warm-up as well as conditioning and basic skills training for the team and allows people who can't commit to or don't want to be on the cheerleading team to still have some active pompom fun.
Maties Cheerleading will hold mid-season try-outs on 23 July.
“Anyone who wants to try out for our Varsity Cup dance team or the competitive cheer team for 2018 needs to join for our off-season training from August to November."
Go to their Facebook page for more info and to register for try-outs: https://www.facebook.com/matiescheer/