Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Togetherness – Courtesy of the Plymouth Raiders Cheerleaders

Posted on 8 December 2020 by Dami Adewale

The Plymouth Raiders Cheerleaders are a team that emphasises togetherness in everything they do.

The importance of comradery in cheerleading is clear. Without great teamwork and communication, spectators are left dissatisfied, cheer routines are ineffective and the cheerleaders could put themselves in unsafe situations.

However, for the Plymouth Raiders Cheerleaders, this togetherness is not exclusive to their group, but in fact the entire Plymouth community.

It Begins from Within

Isolation in 2020 has meant maintaining relationships is more important than ever. Plymouth Raiders Cheerleaders head coach Emilie Perring has experienced this first hand.

For Perring, her team are like a second family, and they always communicate with one another. This has been pivotal during the nationwide lockdown as many of the team are university students stuck in halls of residence.

In terms of the different ages amongst the squad, Perring said: “It’s recognising that, because we have that age range, what challenges are [facing] the younger and older squad members? We’ve got single parents, we’ve got people who have lost their jobs, so it’s about coming together.”

The team’s togetherness has been amplified through their connection to the Plymouth community. The Plymouth Raiders Cheerleaders have been working with primary schools for a while, but Marcus Rashford’s free school meals campaign propelled the team into action once again:

As with any other sport, cheerleading can cause heartbreak as much as it can cause joy. Injuries are inevitable, but sometimes they can stop you from chasing your dreams entirely.

Perring said: “It’s a tough world out there especially in the dance industry, there’s always someone younger and fitter behind you. So, when you start getting that recurring injury, unfortunately it can be a hard road.”

However, Perring has not let setbacks derail her. She transitioned into the world of business whilst staying interested in cheerleading. People often use the entrepreneurial skills they learn from business for their own self gain, not Perring. She leveraged those skills into becoming a greater leader, who provides more opportunities for her team:

 

Short and Long Term Goals

The short and long term goals for the Plymouth Raiders Cheerleaders are centred around community. As previously mentioned, the team mainly does work in primary schools.

Perring detailed this work, by saying: “So, we run an after school club, and that will recommence after the second lockdown [ends]. The girls get involved, we teach year five and year six at MAP (Marine Academy Plymouth).”

The team’s commitment and positive attitude when working at schools has given them more exposure. More schools in Plymouth are requesting the services of Raiders Cheerleading. Gaining traction with the youth in Plymouth has been beneficial for the team.

In October, the Plymouth Raiders Cheerleaders launched their academy squad for 10 to 16 year olds. Perring elaborates on the future plans of Raiders Cheerleading here:

As Perring points out in the clip, the Plymouth Raiders Cheerleaders are all about building each other up, even if that means members moving on to pursue different things. Losing members puts the entire squad at risk, as the team could fold.

Yet, in line with the selflessness that she displays as head coach, Perring would like her team members to always ask themselves ‘what can I do to help out?’ whether that is in Plymouth, or elsewhere.