Hands clap, arms stretch outwardly with precision, bodies are flung into the air, and the music is loud, very loud.
It’s the Integrity Cheer Empire (ICE) warm-ups, and they’re nailing down the finer details of their routine.
Jaiden Mosher, a tumbler and a base on the team, is part of the core of the choreographed number, lifting flyers into the air and flipping through crowds of her fellow athletes without skipping a beat.
“A lot of the people here are really awesome and I get to build friendships with people,” Mosher said. “This sport is really fun, it’s a lot of hard work.”
Mosher, who is from the Beaver Bank area, travels to the ParadICE gym every week for practise, something she’s been doing since she was seven years old.
She’s warming up, tumbling, stunting, and going through the routine over and over, correcting errors along the way.
“I like to perform a lot. It’s always fun to show off all of my moves as best as I can,” she said, with high-energy pop music blaring in the background.
Mosher says cheer is the best sport she’s been involved with and plans to stick with it for the long term.
“I want to stay in it for as long as I can, for as long as my body allows me to,” she said.
“I’d like to start coaching at some point as well,” she added.
“Ever since I joined the sport, I’ve become more confident in what I do and now I have all of these people in my life who help me through things,” she said. “Everyone here is just so supportive and so nice, they’re just great friends.”
Along with her participation in ICE, Mosher has also been selected to be part of the provincial cheerleading team, which will be competing against other national teams for a chance to represent Canada at the world championships in Florida in 2018.
“I was really excited to try out and make the team. I’m hoping I’ll be able to head down to Florida in April and compete at the worlds,” she said. “That’s one of my biggest dreams.”
But for Mosher, it’s about more than just the competition, it’s also about making connections and friendships with her fellow cheerleaders.
“It’s really a huge family,” Mosher said.
“It’s really cool to be able to do the things we can do,” she said.
“When I started I couldn’t even do a cartwheel and now I can do the level of tumbling that’s required to be on the worlds team,” the 13-year-old said. “It’s really cool see where I was when I started at seven years old to now.”
Chris Cunningham, a coach and competitive director with ICE, says Mosher has a drive for the sport.
“Some kids are naturally talented and some have to work, and she’s one of those kids that understand the work portion,” Cunningham said.
“She realizes that there’s a step to every end goal and she’s willing to take those steps,” he continued.
“She’s really resilient and she just works through everything,” he said. “There’s a coachability factor with her. You can give a correction and you know she’s going to make it and listen to it for the sake of her team and her own skillset.”
Within the sport, team cohesion is crucial and Cunningham says Mosher helps bring her teammates together.
“She’s a silent leader — only speaks when it’s required, but when she does, everyone listens,” he said. “She is so dedicated to her sport. A lot of kids will say they had too much homework so (they) couldn’t be there or it’s their mom’s birthday and are going to dinner. She misses for nothing, she knows what her role is and is dedicated to her team.”
He said he’s encouraging Mosher to speak up even more, to build up her confidence.
Cunningham is also a part of the coaching staff for the provincial team, which Mosher has already been selected for.
He says she’ll be a huge asset to the team.
“She’s a really great jumper, with a lot of spring, and is quite flexible, which helps with the shapes in her jumps,” he said.
“She’s a really hard worker and is willing to go the extra mile to get the extra skills,” Cunningham said.
“Her biggest strength is her resilience; she doesn’t give up,” he said. “She has a really great balance of academic success, support within the team and a great support system at home. All of those things come together to make a great athlete.”
Cunningham said if she continues to dedicate herself to the sport, he could see her making it to the worlds competition.