Durham Divas dance their way to success
On December 13th Durham’s cheerleading squad the Durham Divas headed to the ICC University Championships in Leeds.
Despite the lack of preparation time, as the coach got lost, the girls pulled off a good routine in the first division of the day – jazz – and set the tone for the rest of the competition.
Straight after was the pom division: an upbeat dance which is marked on visual effects, sharpness and energy. The girls had plenty of each and came off the mat pleased with their performance.
After a quick change out of tutus and into cheer gear and hairbows, the more nerve-wracking cheer section of the day began. The Divas’ first division was group stunt. The group stunt team, made up of flyers Lottie Linter and Lulu Trask, and bases Gemma Gillie, Ruth Perry and Hannah Jenkins, ran onto the mat full of nerves but executed an excellent routine. Despite a couple of small wobbles the relieved five came off the mat very happy.
The final and most anticipated division of the day was cheer. This, like group stunt, can be either co-ed or all girl, and is a two-and-a-half minute routine to fast music made up of lifts, tosses, pyramids, standing and running tumbling, jumps, chants and dance. The squads are marked on every single element of the routine, right down to their facial expressions, giving a final mark out of 300. The 25 strong varsity squad ran onto the mat knowing that a term of hard training had led up to that moment. Despite a few mistakes, which are to be expected so early in the season, the routine and stunts went without a hitch and looked very tight and well practiced.
The squad picked up second and third place trophies for jazz and pom respectively and were announced as champions in group stunt, just beating local rivals Newcastle. The best news of the day came as the girls found out they had, by a single point, been crowned national champions in cheer as well – their third national title in four years. The Divas have worked their way towards being known as one of the best university squads in country.
However, the squad cannot rest on their laurels this term, as standards are constantly improving. The girls have just four weeks to improve and polish their routine for the next national event in Loughborough in February, where they hope to have an equally successful day.