U of R cheer team spells success without funds
Article: Taylor Rattray – Contributor
On Nov. 30, the University of Regina cheerleading team won their fourth National Championship in six years.
Due to their overwhelming success, the team was asked to represent Canada at the International Cheer Union (ICU) University Worlds Championships from January 17-19 at the Walt Disney World Resort.,
What should have been an amazing trip for all members of the squad turned sour when, due to a lack of funds, they were only able to send a small group of four athletes to the competition.
For Head Coach Thomas Rath, who has been with the team since 2009, he was very excited about what his team was able to accomplish again this year.
“In winning at PC Nationals, [the] Canadian arm of the International Cheer Union invited the top teams to attend Worlds, and all the first place teams at Nationals were extended a free bid to attend,” he said.
But, while the registration and accommodations for all teams invited to attend was covered, the team could only afford a few flights and was only able to fundraise enough for a few girls to participate.
While their success is obvious, Rath admits the lack of funding is frustrating for the team. “I think for any good team to function, you need finances. For us, in terms of being competitive, there are certain things we require. We bring in instructors and clinicians to come to us and to try to keep us up to date with what’s current and trending in cheerleading,” said Rath, whose squad won back-to-back national champions for the first time this year. “We don’t really have the appropriate equipment at the school, so we actually have to go out and rent gym space and facilities to accommodate what we do.”
These things, along with the fact that the team must travel outside of the province to compete, cost the team a large amount of money. However, despite being so successful, because the cheerleading squad is still considered a club, they do not receive the same funding that a CIS sanctioned team would receive.
“This year, we had 30 plane tickets to fly out to Toronto [for Nationals], and just in that alone, you’re looking at tens of thousands [of dollars],” he said. “[These things place] a lot of pressure on the kids to either have to fork that out, over and above what they’re currently paying for their schooling…They have to now pay out of their pockets to do something that represents the school, and [does so] very well.”
The team credits their success, despite financial pressure, to the hard work and dedication they spend in practice.
“It really just comes down to [the fact that] we have a really good core of veterans that keep passing down and instilling good values into the team,” he said. “We train a decent amount of hours in a fairly consistent manner, so I think that helps a lot too. We did tryouts this year in May, and we trained throughout the summer, so we train a long time before we even go out to Nationals.”
In winning at PC Nationals this year, the team sent down a group stunt of four athletes to ICU University Worlds Championships, who represented the rest of their squad very well.
“The group got second out of the division and was one of three different Canadian teams that were representing Canada at Worlds,” said Rath.
Teams there included athletes from Norway, the United States, the United Kingdom, Porto Rico, Costa Rica, Japan, Australia, and many more, creating a truly unique experience for the U of R team.
The team will go on to the World Cheerleading Championships in Orlando, Florida in April to hand out to some other competing teams. Before then, the U of R will host its own competition, the University of Regina Cheerleading Championships (URCC) on March 15th, with the hope of making the event even bigger this year than it ever has been before.Image: uofrcheer.com