The opportunity of a lifetime is coming soon for several athletes that flip, lift, tumble and train in Port Coquitlam.
A dozen Vancouver All-Stars Cheerleaders (VAS) are set to don the maple leaf in April for the 2023 International Cheer Union (ICU) Junior World Championships.
This includes (in alphabetical order):
- Eden Baldwin
- Rylynn Bergson-Gonzales
- Katie Brown
- Taylor Buckman
- Addison Dew
- Echo Fee
- Kennedy Krause
- Kristina Pavan
- McKenzie Sexton
- Taliah Sherritt
- Trinity Tompkins
- Mary-Jane Webster
All 12 were part of Team BC that applied via a video showcase in December that consisted of a skill sequence to be chosen for Youth Team Canada.
The provincial squad won the contest will now put their moves to the test against more than 30 of the world's best at the three-day competition in Orlando, Fla.
The event is for cheerleaders aged 12 to 14, said BC Sport Cheer president Krista Girlitch-Fitzgerald.
"I am thrilled that our athletes, volunteer support staff from coaches and administrators have had their hard work and talent acknowledged in their successful bid to represent Canada," she told the Tri-City News.
"These athletes are true ambassadors for sportsmanship working collaboratively when they typically compete against each other. Their commitment to the sport with extra training and travel required has been a major investment for all involved, so we are thrilled the team will have one more opportunity to compete this season at 2023 ICU Junior World Cheerleading Championships."
VAS itself was established in Port Coquitlam's G Force Gym (2110-550 Sherling Pl.) for more than two decades.
And with its goal to harness the fundamentals, the club has proved it can produce top quality athletes — on the floor and in the air — as well as good people in their own community.
VAS has won several tune-up competitions since the 12 were appointed to Youth Team Canada, including national titles across five different categories at JAMZ in Las Vegas.
As of this publication (March 5), the All-Stars are competing in Victoria at the 2023 B.C. provincial championships.
But going to the world championships also comes with a hefty price tag of up to $40,000 altogether.
VAS is hoping the community can help support the athletes' once-in-a-lifetime experience through a series of fundraisers.
VAS cheer mom Karen Tompkins said the team plans to sell flowers and raffle tickets in hopes of raising the money before the Sea to Sky International Cheer and Dance Championships in Vancouver, April 1 and 2.
In 2022, Canada claimed the silver medal at the junior world championships. Mexico took the title.
While the PoCo-based cheerleaders are preparing to bring back a gold this year, Girlitch-Fitzgerald said the national team's primary goal is to reflect the spirit of Canada with pride.
"We hope this opportunity provides the athletes a positive outlet to express their capabilities and skills, while demonstrating excellence in sportsmanship, competitiveness, teamwork, commitment and leadership."
The 2023 ICU Junior World Championships are scheduled to take place April 19 to 21 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex — just south of Disney World.