By Carly Spadafora
“We’ve got spirit, yes we do! We’ve got spirit, how about you?” Yara Attalla, a student at John Abbott College, knows quite a bit about what it takes to have school spirit. Something that stands out about the John Abbott Cheerleading team, started by Yara in 2011, as opposed to the other sports teams is that it is student-led.
Yes, that’s right, a student began the whole operation. “It hasn’t always been easy” she admitted. “When I came to John Abbott in my first semester, I was so shocked to see that we did not have a cheerleading team and decided that if no one was willing to take initiative to start one, I would”. The Cheerleading team has come a long way since the beginning, which began with fifteen girls and has doubled every year since. Yara says “We had no recognition, no uniforms, no choreography, no help from external facilities, no events, then suddenly we were all over the place: practicing twice a week at 7:00 a.m., and doing two events a month. We now have college support, Adidas uniforms, team jackets and awards, and community recognition.”
The cheerleading team helped out at several college sporting events such as Comedy Night, the sports awards, football team registrations, football games, performing at the basketball nationals hosted by John Abbott College in 2012, and many others. They also collaborate with Student Success Services every year for the Phone-a-Thon, the Health and Wellness department to raise awareness for breast cancer, SUJAC for SUJAC Club Day, and Student Activities. The Cheerleading team is currently involved in the Movember campaign to raise awareness for men’s health. and has hosted various bake sales for breast cancer and homeless children.
The Cheerleading Team has been hosting fitness events or for two years now to benefit the Mental Health Association: Yoga night in 2012 and Zumbathon in 2013. These fitness events are collaborations with various fitness studios as well as fitness apparel companies to help raise money through raffle prizes.
It takes a team filled with passion and dedication to put so much time and effort into something that has become so big in a matter of three years. The cheerleaders believe that belonging to a team is a motivating factor to want to be at, and respect, your school: “I can’t imagine a life without cheerleading in it. There is nothing I love more than the atmosphere at a football game, all that excitement and anticipation!” says Yara She is not only a student at John Abbott College, not only the captain of the Cheerleading team and a good friend to many; she is also an inspiration to other students. Yara believes that can accomplish anything you want as long as you dedicate yourself and most of all; fall in love with it.
The John Abbott Cheerleading team currently consists of 37 cheerleaders including 1 captain, 3 co-captains, 4 coaches, and 2 co-captains in training. When asked what it’s like to manage a team of 37 girls, co-captain Susie Miller admitted, “It’s challenging. There are a lot of different opinions, but what makes it easier is that they are all working towards a common goal in order to make the team better”. The Cheerleading team, like all other John Abbott sports teams, is now proud to be collaborating with Adidas for team jackets and brand new 2013-2014 uniforms. The Cheerleading team also collaborates with North Shore Cheer extreme gym for the use of their facilities. In the near future, the team hopes to be able to perform for the St. Anne Veterans hospital and also has plans to compete against other cheerleading squads. For them, the sky is the limit.