In 2020 Brock Cheer was at top of the sport’s pyramid winning a gold medal at the University World Cup Cheerleading Championships in Orlando, Fla.
Two years later the program is facing an uncertain future wondering whether it will remain a varsity team under a new sports model being implemented by Brock University.
Reclassification to the sport club tier would result in a more than a loss in status. An online petition campaign that has since closed also raised safety concerns pointing out the cheer team would lose access to high-performance training opportunities if it became a club program.
“Currently, Brock Cheer has access to Brock Sports medicine and Brock Sports Performance. That allows us to have a student-trainer at each practice to keep us healthy and a student-trainer to program workouts that we attend twice a week in the Brock Rowing Center to build our strength, “said the appeal that attracted 2,225 supporters before it was closed.
The petition campaign started by co-captain Leah Weidner said Brock Cheer deserves a better fate given its involvement in community events over the years and success at competitions. It shouldn’t lose access to the training it has currently.
“Not only is there a safety need for those resources, but they are also what makes us extremely successful,” the appeal for support said.
Weidner declined comment when contacted by the Niagara Dailies, as did head coach Tara Savoie. A message left with co-captain Sally Bellevue was not returned at press time.
Dan Dakin, manager of communications and media relations, said the review of the university’s sports model will serve as a “framework for the competitive athletic opportunities available to student-athletes.” The goal, he wrote in an email, is “to better support the success of all Badgers teams.”
Next step in the ongoing process includes consultation with the Brock community, as well as with the athletic departments at other universities in Ontario.
Dakin said an update on the new sport model will be provided to the university community when plans are finalized.
Monique Mastroianni, cheerleading coach at Notre Dame College School in Welland and scholastic director with the Ontario Cheerleading Federation, suggested if Brock drops cheer as a varsity sport, the timing couldn’t be worse, nor could the optics. She pointed out that the International Olympic Committee recognized cheerleading as a sport last summer, giving the International Cheer Union the ability to apply to be part of the games.
“An organization cannot do this if they are not a recognized sport,” Mastroianni said. “The International Olympic Committee has a rigorous protocol for determining what sports receive status to become part of the games – cheerleading has received their stamp of approval and Brock University performs at the top of their division – that their own school does not want to recognize the athleticism of what they are doing, is not only insulting, it is offensive. “
“I personally have sent multiple athletes to this program from my school and if I am offended that Brock all of a sudden doesn’t think cheerleading is a sport, I can only imagine what their current athletes are feeling.”