Griffith Cheer team take on nationals!
This weekend the Griffith Cheer team head to their greatest challenge yet at the Australian All Star Cheerleading Federation (AACF) National Championship right here on the Gold Coast! With over 6000 competitors amassed from across the country and judges from all around the world, it’s truly a hallmark event of the year. I was able to sit down with five of the Griffith competitors to delve into their story in this tremendous journey – read on for more!
Lowana Davies || 19 – B. Digital media
Ellen Wallbank || 18 – B. Science
Hilde Johannesen || 20 – B. Science
Daryl Davidson || 18 – B. Multimedia
Steele Schulz || 18 – B. Science
What got you guys into it to start with?
Lowana & Ellen: We signed on during O-week and think it’s just so much fun! The social aspect is really a selling point too, it’s such a great way to meet people and get to know them.
Daryl: I like tumbling it’s just…cool.
Steele: Not going to lie, I joined just to learn to do flips.
Hilde: I just wanted to learn back hand springs in the clubs (to impress guys?)
This sounds like it needs proper practice, what’s the training program like?
Hilde: We have sessions about twice a week for 2 hours. It’s really important that people make it too. Like you have to come. It’s because if you don’t have a person on the team there it’s so much you can’t do without them so you can’t run through the whole routine and it ruins the progress.
Ellen: Yeah it’s pretty serious I mean even if you’re sick you have to come sit and watch.
Steele: We had a guy the other day with tonsilitis and he had to sit through an entire 5 hour training session.
Hilde: The other day we even learnt some chor…choreog…how do you say that?
Hilde: Yeah that’s it hahaha.
Wait, back up a 5 hour session?! Has the intensity upped leading to nationals?
Ellen & Daryl: Definitely. We used to train for 1 or 2 hours but now it’s up to 4 to 5 hours more times a week too.
Lowana: Warm up of 20 laps to start off with but then push ups, suicides, sit ups, burpees, wall sits, dynamic stretches – break up in to our two teams the Red and White.
Hilde: Hand stands up against the wall…god they’re so hard.
Steele: Pyramids, tumbling, back tucks and just everything with your team for the rest of the session. It’s not usually super stressful though. You might sometimes like stop, be doing nothing and lock eyes with someone and start dancing and they’ll dance back. You know a little booty shake or something. Pretty fun, loose vibe really. Daryl sometimes has like 12 people around him while he’s breakdancing.
Lowana: And Daryl can breakdance!! When we’re just chilling I ask him to teach me haha.
So you’ve got a little background in breakdancing?
Hilde: He’s just being modest! Maybe it’s because we don’t know what’s good but he’ll just say he’s about to do a flare and it looks amazing!
Steele: Speak for yourself I’ve seen Step Up, I know good breakdancing when I see it.
Daryl: Yeah I’m usually trying to do my own thing and they come up to me and ask me to teach them so I’m like ah, okay. I only started focussing on breakdancing last year but started this in second semester and that’s 5 weeks before the state champs to give you perspective and just dove right into it, literally. Only started in semester two of this year and I mean the university club has only been going on since this year. I’ve found it helps with conditioning and confidence when it comes to the routines too but I mean I’m not even that good…
Everyone else: He’s really good!
Daryl: Don’t listen to them.
You mentioned states and just 5 weeks before starting, how was that experience?
Everyone: Best comp so far, we won! Crowned “Grand champs” with medals and everything!
Lowana: Training was similar leading up to the event we were doing more sessions but easily the best one so far.
Steele: Craziest thing was we hadn’t even done any full outs for that one. Wait you don’t know what a full out is? Oh you know, it’s just running through the entire routine…so we did 0 of those before we performed.
Hilde: We changed the pyramid formation right before we were on the floor because we didn’t have enough time and so our coach, Tish, just said to roll with it. At the time I was stressing out! I was so nervous and we had been screwing up in the warm ups and weren’t even hitting the right cues…but then we got out there and pow, pow, pow, pow!
Steele: Pow, pow! He’s going to put that in the interview you know. Oh also the guys didn’t even have the right uniform on the day. I’m saying one thing leads to another and we had to wear some spares the girls had and they were a bit tighter than we were used to.
Daryl: On top of all of that…we didn’t even have water beforehand.
Wow so against all odds you guys came out on top! Can’t wait to hear about results at nationals and on that note how are the feels going in and aspirations for after?
Lowana: Bit nervous as expected but we’re aiming for another win.
Steele: We’ve still got about a week to go so plenty of time to train…I’m imagining a few more 4 hour sessions somewhere, in theory they could have us train everyday until next weekend, but I sure hope not.
Hilde: I’m hoping for a win too but nervous that I don’t screw up! We have these signs that we put on the floor and well, sometimes I put it down back to front.
Daryl: You might think there’s a lot of conditioning that goes into the routines we run but what they say is it’s more like 20% physical and 80% mental game. You really need to be in the zone and focussed on what you’re doing not to mention trust the people you’re matched up with.
Lowana: In that sense the social aspect of it all really comes in handy in building friendships, trust and bonds because it’s a core part of running the routines with everyone.
Ellen: Since starting up at the beginning of the year I can totally relate to what everyone’s said and so much more. The biggest thing we’re looking at after is the Scholastic championships. 16 get selected and compete with a chance for a bid for the World’s championships.
Sounds like an incredible journey, all the best for Nationals and beyond guys!
You can check out the team website here on Facebook and for more info on the AAFC head to their website for competition details. Times for this weekend are as follows at the Gold Coast entertainment & exhibition centre so get around them and up the red and white!
Friday Night (Stunt Fest)
University 1/2 All-Girl Stunt Group Airi 8:45pm
University 1/2 All-Girl Stunt Group Aleesha 9:00pm
University Pom 1:20pm
University 3/4 Coed Division 2 (“White”) 8:00am