This is a guest post written by Laura Hornby – you can follow her on Instagram here.
Earlier this year, the USASF and IASF announced seven new divisions for the 2018-2019 season. Two of the new IASF provisionals divisions include 5.0 “Non-Tumbling” – coed and all girl. In what was a shocking move to most, the divisions call for 2-minute routines and eliminate the tumbling elements. In turn, this puts a heavier emphasis on building skills like stunts and pyramids, and other sections such as jumps, tosses and a longer dance section. 16-30 members aged 14 and over will makeup both the coed and all-girl teams. Coed teams may have up to a whopping 20 boys.
During the upcoming season, each of the 42 Worlds bid competitions will offer a 5.0 bid to the Cheerleading Worlds 2019 in addition to their previously announced full paid and at-large bids.
Why the New 5.0 Cheerleading Worlds Divisions Exist
IASF underscored the creation of the new divisions by stressing the benefits they serve for gyms and athletes both in the United States and internationally. Initially, they allow athletes who cannot tumble (due to injury or other constraints) but who are stronger in stunting and other aspects of cheer to compete at a high level. Further, this enables gyms to retain these athletes and field an additional team of strong level 5 stunters to compete at the Cheerleading Worlds and other prestigious competitions.
Many countries lack the resources needed to teach tumbling sufficiently and safely. The new 5.0 divisions allow countries that are building cheerleading programs to compete at a high level while keeping their athletes safe. I expect to see teams who compete in these two new divisions to create truly unique routines that will help set a new standard in cheerleading.
Who’s Taking the Mat this Season
After the new divisions were announced, several gyms quickly revealed that they will field a team for the inaugural season. Programs with 5.0 teams include Cheer Extreme (one in Kernersville, NC and one in Chicago, IL), Cheer Sport Sharks (one in Cambridge and one in Ottawa), Cheer Athletics (Charlotte, NC), New York Icons of Rochester, NY, and Flyers All Stars of Canada. As we get closer to the new season, we expect more programs to announce new teams.
Lady Lux, the 5.0 team of Cheer Extreme Kernersville, approaches the season in the new division focusing on positivity and motivation to fuel their innovative stunts. Team member Meghan Bartlett described the team’s strong work ethic and determined attitude:
“I have not once heard anyone on Lady Lux complain about practice or anything of the sort. Yeah it’s hard, but we’re all just so happy to be there together. It’s all laughs at Lady Lux practice.”
Meghan also said that the team already has an unbreakable bond and that this will be key throughout the season. Teammate Lexie Cunningham added to Meghan’s point and said that this as a lot of the team bonded over cheering together for several years. While they thought last season would be their last together with many team members aging out, the new division offers another season to be together and compete as Worlds athletes.
“I’m excited to show the world what we are capable of without tumbling, and I know my teammates would agree with me. So many people have shown us love and support through social media and we couldn’t be more thankful for our new fans and we can’t wait to show them what we’ve been working on.”
Cheer Sport Sharks enters the season with two 5.0 teams, Copper Sharks from Cambridge and Silky Sharks from Ottawa.
“I love this division because it gives so many more athletes an opportunity to be on advanced levels and accomplish their dream of going to Worlds and competing showing others how well they can do if given the chance and I’m really excited to see what different teams do throughout the season,” said Silky Sharks athlete Mercedes Emmerson.
Mercedes described how she always looked up to athletes on Worlds teams and dreamed of being on one herself, but she had difficulty learning backward tumbling skills. After the first Silky Sharks practice, she could already see her team’s positivity and determination to work hard. Sierra Barber of Copper Sharks agreed on the significance of her team’s determination and bond:
“The team dynamic is the same as any other Sharks team I have been on, getting to know everyone and learning how to work together and become a sisterhood. At the end of the season, the tears we shed at will will definitely show everyone the family we have become.”
She described that so far the team has been training new tumbling and jumping skills and that once they start choreography in late August it will be interesting to see how different their routine is.
Taylor Sinclair, another athlete from Silky Sharks, explained she also looks forward to seeing the creativity that the 5.0 teams come up with.“Being a new division, there’s nothing to base yourself on so you have to set the bar for the future of the division.”
Kate Slaughter of Silky Sharks also said that her team’s drive and the division’s anticipated creativity: “There’s already a really great vibe from this team as we’re all super determined to make our stunts work. I’m so excited not only to see where we go this season but to see the other amazing 5.0 teams especially in Canada and I’m super excited to see what kind of creativity is going to come out of this division.”
As the competition season begins, the 5.0 division will definitely be one to watch. With their innovative stunts and motivation to show what they are capable of, each gym’s unique take on a groundbreaking new division awaits.