Tara Savoie has been coaching Brock University’s cheerleading program for the past 17 years, and she’s loved every single minute of her tenure. Savoie also serves as the assistant coach for Brock’s men’s and women’s golf teams.
“I cheered my first two years at Western University and when I transferred to Brock to complete my undergrad in Sport Management, the then head coach contacted me to and asked me to join the cheer team,” said Savoie. “She left at the end of my first year at Brock. We coached ourselves for the next year which was very difficult, so I stepped off of the team and took on the coaching role and I have been in the coaching role ever since.”
Brock possesses two distinct cheerleading squads – Red, a level six team, and Blue, a level four team. Savoie has cultivated a program that encompasses a unit of athletes that have always been recognized as hard workers who continuously strive to achieve their goals in their routines, as well as in their academics.
Savoie claims that the main difference between coaching golf and cheer is the technical side of each sport, but coaching the athletes on their mental strength and preparedness is what both sports have in common.
“Coaching the athletes through their fears and having them realize what they are truly capable of achieving once they set their fears aside is what I love about coaching,” said Savoie.
A self-funded program, this year’s team is comprised of 21 athletes, 20 of whom have competed and one alternate. You’ve most likely seen them around campus as they participate in university happenings, including Frosh Week, homecoming, basketball games and events around the Niagara Region, creating a rousing excitement for everyone attending.
The program has participated in many competitions on an annual basis, and have won Cheer Alliance university national titles in three consecutive years (2008, 2009, 2010). Brock was also one of the four original teams to participate in the PCA Canadian University National Championships, an event that the university’s cheerleading program has competed in for all 30 years that the competition has been in existence.
Last year, Brock’s Red Team decided to take it a step further, attending the ICU World University Cheerleading Championships at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. The International Cheer Union is accredited as the world governing body of cheerleading, and serves to advance the sport. The routine at the ICU World University Cheerleading Championships differs from what Canada is used to, as it embraced both music and cheer portions. In their first year of competing in the worldwide event, Brock failed to medal but ranked an impressive fourth place.
Savoie’s Red Team made another trip to Orlando to participate in the ICU World University Cheerleading Championships as the event’s sole Canadian team from Jan. 16-18, but this time, they proved themselves to the entire world – they brought home the silver medal, falling only 1.65 points short to Texas State University who won the gold.
“We accepted each other’s weaknesses and worked together to make everyone stronger and knew that every time we met, we all came ready to give it 100 per cent,” said Savoie. “We can all say that at the end of the season, none of us will say, we wish we would have.”
The Lady Badgers have achieved international recognition, but more importantly have earned the respect of their peers in Canada as a leader in All Girl Collegiate Cheerleading. They earned a silver medal, and they demonstrated their strength when it came to building skills in cheerleading.
“We are dedicated to continuing to raise the bar while we execute the same pyramids that our competitors do with almost half of the athletes on the floor,” said Savoie. “It is truly an honour to be a part of that Badger Pride.”