At its core, Panther Cheer Athletics strives to develop the whole athlete.
That means providing a safe, positive and challenging culture for individuals to grow and realize their potential.
The steadfast belief has vaulted Panther Cheer to the top in the sport of all-star cheerleading, and created a model to emulate.
“Panther Cheer is the only cheer gym in B.C. to have an intensive and thorough character development aspect to our training,” says co-owner Stephanie Kennedy. “Each and every month, we have a word that we focus on and discuss as a team at the beginning of every practice. We talk about how the word is applicable to their lives, their training, and their part in how the world works.”
The conversations are not only meaningful, but help better prepare the club’s athletes for life on and off the competitive mat.
Besides helping advance their athletic talents, both as individuals and collectively, the character development is also reflected in the way the athletes carry themselves in competition as well as outside the athletic arena.
Another benefit is the consistency Panther Cheer has been able to realize. At last weekend’s seventh Mardi Parti Cheer Championships at the Richmond Olympic Oval, the club earned four top placings. Additionally, the club—which was represented by eight teams—finished first three times and captured two grand championship banners (meaning they received highest score in their respective levels across all age divisions). Most notably, the Generals (Panther Cheer’s junior level two team) won the inaugural Pinnacle Cup awarded for the highest cumulative score over three events the company ran this season.
Further, two Panther Cheer teams recently became national champions at the Best of the Northwest in Tacoma.
This weekend (March 1 to 3), Panther Cheer’s senior level four team is competing in Dallas at the NCA All-Star Nationals—the largest cheerleading competition in the United States. This competition will feature tens of thousands of athletes from 43 states and 10 countries.
“This is our first time attending and we are excited to represent Canada at this level,” notes Kennedy.
Kennedy and co-owner Dawn Silver are proud of the grit, determination, passion and dedication all the athletes have demonstrated this season.
“It is always brings the coaches such pride to see each of our teams come together and battle hard to hit new stunt combinations, perform new tumbling sequences, and to wow the crowd with their outstanding performances,” says Kennedy.
Outside of competing, Panther Cheer athletes also stand tall as human beings. So far this season they have hosted five philanthropic events:
• a blood donor clinic run by Canadian Blood Services
• raised funds and participated in “Light the Night” walk for the leukemia and lymphoma society
• attended a downtown shelter and helped serve warm meals to those in need
• organized, raised funds and participated in the club’s annual community 5K “Panther Pups and Puddles Walk for RAPS” helping to raise money for animals in Richmond, and
• participated in the “Starts with a Heart” event where the athletes created handmade Valentines cards and deliver them to Richmond’s elderly.
“This season’s placings have demonstrated the growth (that Panther Cheer strives for),” Kennedy says. “Cheerleading is such a tough sport with so many obstacles and challenges. There is no bench in all-star cheer. Each and every athlete plays an integral part.”
Information about the club’s 16th competitive cheerleading season will be soon made available. Interested athletes and families can firstname.lastname@example.org