Friday, April 19Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

An Interview with Cheer

140 members, 9 teams and plenty of trophies to their name, RH Tomcats are a club that offers ‘something for everyone’. Sitting across from me, Kerrie Ahern (Club President), explains about team tanning, BUCs aspiration and the many, many bows.
So after watching ‘Bring It On’ many times, I think I understand what Cheer is all about. How wrong I am. “Cheer is full on.” Kerrie dives into the vast choice of positions as well as options for all ranges of experiences; “We have 9 teams in total; 4 Stunt, 2 Dance, 2 Cheer and Sideline. Everyone has a preference whether it’s tumbling, stunting or dance.” With members having backgrounds in gymnastics to weightlifting or even to complete novices, it’s a sport that definitely has something to suit you.

Stereotypically, when you think of Cheerleaders, you think of blonde ditsy girls who cheer purely for other teams. Tomcat’s go against this and they work hard to prove that they are strong athletes in their own right; “When people are rude about Cheer, it’s because they don’t know enough and might get the wrong idea from what people think. We cheer for ourselves in our own right. Cheer is a performance based sport. We look like a team, act like a team.” Cheers success speaks for itself; with 4th place at Worlds for Hip Hop and taking 7 routines to Nationals which all placed in the top three; 2 at 1st, 3 at 2nd and 2 at 3rd place.

Not only do Tomcats compete at a high level but they also have a great social side; “We work hard and play hard.” With a range of socials last year from Thorpe Park Fright Night to 10th Anniversary Mean Girls Screening to Cheer Holiday, there’s something for everyone. But more than that, there are lots of surprises in store for the social side, particularly with the initiations theme being top secret… “It can be hard having many members, but it’s worth it because we’re like a family.” Tomcats not only play and socialise like a family but also give something back to the community with regular volunteering and careers events. They throw away the shackles of stereotype by getting involved with the local company through performances at local residential homes to boxing up Christmas gifts with the SU.

After a year of winning RAG Club of the Year as well as the prestigious Club of the Year, what else could a club be striving for? Kerrie emphasise her aim to improve skills and get involved in 5 competitions this year. “I want to get top places in competitions. We did so well on everything last year; careers, volunteering and membership. It’s about time Tomcats gained 1st place in Cheer divisions.” Her competitive nature definitely comes across in the desire to try and bring back the strong competition success of past years as well as creating new opportunities for members to get involved in. “We compete completely separately from BUCs but we’re working on LUSL in the pipeline which would give everyone a fair chance of being involved as well as being in the best interest of the University to gain BUCs points.”

So what can you expect from the Tomcats in Fresher’s Week? “We’ll be campaigning hard with demonstrations at the Sports Fayre. We want to see what people are about and what they want from a sport so that we can answer their questions and show them Cheer has something for everyone.”

After interviewing Kerrie, I realised I had learnt a lot about who the Tomcats are and what they do. If I could, I know I would get to a taster session to find out more even if it was to just to try out a bow; “Bows are my thing. Nobody should be denied the privilege of wearing a bow.”