On Saturday the 17th of February, the Newcastle Northern Angels dance team left a grey and gloomy Newcastle at 3am to embark on their journey to the Future Cheer University Nationals - a weekend of blood, sweat, tears and red lipstick (and that was just the coach journey).
After a 4-hour drive, the Angels arrived at the Genting Arena in Birmingham, dressed to impress and raring to compete against some of the toughest competition in the UK.
Led by the captain of the Angels, Georgie Stenhouse, the girls did Newcastle proud in round after round of Hip Hop, Jazz and a Pom routine. The talented squad ensured that their hard work paid off, when all three of their performances resulted in Top 10 rankings.
Last, but most certainly not least, the two group stunt teams performed their routines, which consisted of challenging cheerleading stunts with only four people in each team. The co-ed level 4 team achieved an astounding 3rd place, only to be followed by the level 3, all-girl team who amazingly placed in the top 10.
“Many are quick to overlook the incredible athleticism and dedication required for successful, high-ranking routines”
Whilst the judges were making their decisions, the university teams from all over the country were invited to participate in a game called ‘Chicken in the Hen House’. Our enthusiastic cheerleaders, Phoebe Burley, Sophie Reynolds and Molly Winton, volunteered themselves to represent Newcastle University, which required them to create different cheerleading positions on command as quickly as possible.
Impressively, they achieved third place, ruling out around twenty other university teams and leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that Newcastle were true competitors – a team to watch out for.
Following the successes of Saturday, the Newcastle Northern Angel squad was completed by the arrival of the remaining cheerleaders. They competed on the Sunday in two final routines– the level 2 Blue Team routine, and the level 3 Red Team routine.
6 top-ten finishes for the Angels, in Hip Hop, Jazz, Pom, Lvl 2 All-Girl, Lvl 3 All-Girl and Lvl 4 Coed
First to take the stage were the Blues, who wowed the crowd with their 3-minute performance filled with challenging gymnastics, impressive stunts, and a fiery finish to the soundtrack of Madonna’s ‘Vogue’. This winning combination led to the squad being ranked in the top 5 in the country alongside the likes of Loughborough and Leeds - two universities who are both famed for their sporting excellence.
And the success didn’t stop there! The level 2 performers left the stage, trophies in hand, making way for the next heat, which featured the more advanced, level 3 division.
The Newcastle Northern Angels Red team took to the stage, instantly filling the floor with energy and enthusiasm which set the tone for their thrilling performance to come.
They hyped up the crowd with a brief round of cheers, before regaining composure and transitioning into their starting positions. Channelling the spirit of their opening tune, Kelly Rowland’s ‘Commander’, the Northern Angels had no trouble in taking command of the competition, with excellently executed motions, creative and original choreography and jumps almost as high as their ponytails. ‘And there they go!’ the commentator cried, as their high octane, fast-paced performance took the crowd by storm.
The squad displayed their style and strength, enduring stunts which truly pushed their bodies to the limit, whilst at the same time maintaining huge smiles throughout.
“The Newcastle Northern Angels Red team took to the stage, instantly filling the floor with energy and enthusiasm”
The sassy closing dance routine was the icing on the cake, tying the performance together and landing the team an astounding second place, a mere few points behind top spot.
It’s no understatement to say that the teams made it look easy - the seemingly effortless grace of their performances is a testament to the hours of hard work put in by each and every Angel to ensure a strong, near flawless performance each time.
Unfortunately, however, it’s often this same apparent effortlessness, teamed with the sass and personality often incorporated into cheerleading performances, which encourages sceptics to suggest that cheerleading isn’t a sport, and shouldn’t be as highly regarded as those such as football or rugby; many are quick to overlook the incredible athleticism and dedication required to execute many of the complex elements required for successful, high-ranking routines.
The Angels are now preparing for a showcase at the University Sports hall with the provisional date of 7th March. We’ll be performing both our Red and Blue routines and a full squad routine, and hopefully the dances and group stunts.
This will be an opportunity for friends and family, and members of the University to watch the Angels, and see how much their hard work and dedication has pulled off, which ultimately guaranteed them an amazing season, filled with success.