Four years ago, a handful of young cheer athletes and parents received some bad news. Their cheer gym in Abbotsford had just lost their lease and this came without warning. The future of the young athletes remained uncertain, the parents were concerned what to do next. One family and one concerned mother from Mission, stepped up to see where to relocate the gym. After a few weeks, a new location was found and work began to build a new facility. The parents of many of the athletes came forward in support and a new club. In November, 2014, The Academy of Cheer Excellence (A.C.E.), located in Mission, was born.
A few years later, after only their 4th season in Cheerleading, A.C.E. has earned TWO Bids (prestigious invites) to compete at the SUMMIT World Cheerleading Championships in Disney World May 3-6, 2018.
When they opened their doors in November 2014 they had only 18 athletes. The owners (and founders of Cheer Journal) Donna Kane and Jaimee Greene wanted to provide a cheer gym in Mission so that our local athletes didn’t have to travel to other cities to participate in a sport they LOVE.
Since that time, their approach to Cheer has not only been to provide a space to practice and compete but an opportunity to interact and give back to the community.
“We want to inspire youth to Dream Big” owner Donna Kane says, “We look for opportunities to shine on and off the cheer mats”.
And Dream Big they have! This year Academy was honored to perform with the Harlem Globetrotters at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre. Last month they were selected to perform for the Annual BC Sports Awards night, as the very first Cheer performance since Cheer was officially recognized within the Provincial Association.
Another powerful contribution was when Academy Cheerleaders assisted Amnesty International in their plight to stop human rights violations on child labour for mining cobalt (a mineral required to fuel the lithium batteries in our cell phones and laptops). “We sent over 50 letters to the CEOs of Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung asking them to take measures to ensure the cobalt they buy did not originate from child labour” owner Jaimee Greene explains, “It was really emotional to see these handwritten letters from children here in B.C. Canada begging these huge companies to protect children their own age on the other side of the world in the Congo. They would write things like ‘Please don’t make the children work, I think they just want to cheer like I do’”.
Other annual contributions include the #BeYouGirl Sparkle Project campaign, #LightUpPurple World Mental Health Day, the EveRIAthing Wall of Stars Annual Youth Talent and Contributions Awards show, and the United Nations May 4th Annual Anti-Bullying Day #WearPink.
Located just off the Lougheed #7 highway every evening you can see dedicated Cheer Parents driving their children to practice, sometimes 5 times a week. These athletes share a common Dream: for a chance to compete with the best in the World at the Annual SUMMIT World Championships in Disney World Florida, the most prestigious honor in cheerleading. During the competitive season, judges watch hundreds of thousands of cheer routines all over the world and invite only the best to compete against each other. “It’s like the Stanley Cup for Cheer” one parent describes.
Recognizing the committed athletes they had, Head Coach Jessica Scoates and Coach Sierra Kennedy pushed these teams to their limit to achieve the best season Academy has had so far. “I’ve coached some of these athletes since they were 6 years old, I know what they can do” stated Coach Jessica.
From June to December 2017, many Academy teams including Youth Level 2 team RUSH and Junior Level 3 team SCORPIONS learned an extremely hard routine and practiced tirelessly week after week to get it right. “The harder your routine the bigger your score” Coach Jessica explains, “and it is not just difficulty, judges are looking to be entertained. They want to see smiles, sass, and creativity”. These teams demonstrated so much heart they even earned the respect of Cheer Celebrity, and four time world champion, Robert Scianna who visited Mission to share his expertise. Robert taught them discipline and gratitude which is how he earned his World titles. Robert even filmed their Cheer Journey for his upcoming show with Awesomeness TV.
With a routine they could be proud of RUSH and SCORPIONS were killing it at competitions all season. They took home countless 1st and 2nd place titles turning heads locally and abroad. Pride filled the gym here in Mission. “It’s not just the hard work of the athletes, but the parents too” manager Maellody Bilton explains, “Parents see how cheer has changed their child’s life and will do anything to support it. Cheer is not cheap and getting kids to practice and competitions can take over your life”. All the sacrifices seemed to pay off. Academy of Cheer Excellence thought they had ended their 2017-2018 season on a high at the Sea to Sky Competition in Vancouver B.C. April 6-8th.
“We didn’t receive a bid to SUMMIT at the previous competitions in January, February or March but we were okay with that”, says Coach Jessica. “My athletes shined and did their best, but there are so many good teams out there”.
The following Monday at 5:30 p.m. Varsity announced the SUMMIT Bid Winners on their official website from the Sea to Sky Competition this past weekend. RUSH was in practice at the time and were not even watching the for the bid reveal. Suddenly the information got out. Athlete Kailey Clarke screamed, “We got a bid! WE GOT A BID!!”
“What”? Coach Jessica asked while her team lost focus, “How do you know that”? Suddenly the gym erupted into tears of joy. It was official, RUSH and SCORPIONS won a bid to SUMMIT. The dream that seemed so far out of reach, now is reality. All the practices, all the driving, all the fundraising, all the moments when giving up seemed easier, now paid off. It just came together here in Mission B.C. We did it.
“Who would’ve thought a few years ago when we were standing there as cheer moms with no gym and a handful of athletes- that this moment would come, but it did!!”, proud Cheer Parent Michelle Smith posts with pride.
Now the real work begins. What happens when a club receives a bid to the World Championships so close to the date? There is almost no time to fundraise. “For these young athletes, competing at an International level is a once in a lifetime experience. They did the hard work to be the best they can, now as parents, we want to make sure these athletes can get to Orlando to compete. Since these bids were announced with little notice to prepare, we have a short window to raise the funds we need.” Cheer parent Carle Proskin notes. Parents are faced with the hard reality of the cost this honor will be to their family. Many simply cannot afford it. It is estimated the total cost for both team will be about $60,000 for the club to participate in this International event.
“If Cheer has taught us one thing, it is to work as a team and not give up! We demanded that standard from our athletes all season, the least we can do is ban together and do our best for them. They have earned that much.” owner Donna Kane insists.
Academy has very little time to collect the entry fees for this event. In fact, the full amount is due April 12th and then there are flights and accommodations to consider for both teams. help. Anyone who donates $100 or more will be invited to the A.C.E. Showcase help in June at their Mission gym. These young World competitors will perform for the community. Businesses or individuals who contribute larger donations can become a recognized sponsor.
For more information and for information on Sponsorship or how you might be able to help, contact:
Primary Contact Maellody Bilton (Parent and Office Manager) Ph: 604-836-6352
Alternate Contact #1 Jaimee Greene (Owner) Ph: 604-798-6830
Alternate Contact #2 Carle Proskin (Parent) Ph: 604-816-5486