When Scott and Riana Luck opened Premier Cheer Academy in Red Deer six years ago, they had 50 students in the first year of their competitive cheer program. Fast forward to 2015 and they have since moved into a 10,000 sq. ft. facility to house their over 250 competitive athletes, as well as expand the academy to another facility in Calgary last May.
With less than a year in the books for their Calgary operation, the Lucks announced earlier this month the Calgary Premier Cheer Academy’s International Co-ed Level 6 Team has received a bid to the 2015 ICU World Championships.
They received their bid to Worlds after having competed at the Alberta Cheerleading Associations competition last month at West Edmonton Mall.
This means the Premier squad will be headed south to Walt Disney Land Resort in Orlando from April 22nd-28th where they are guaranteed one routine performance with the hopes of making it to the finals where they could compete once more.
The team is one of seven teams from Alberta heading to the international competition with teams from Cheer Empire, Perfect Storm Cheer, and Power Cheer all attending as well. However Premier will face only one other Alberta team in their division out of Cheer Empire, with seven teams out of 26 in their division being from Canada.
Riana explained that while the U.S. does represent a large number of teams in the competition due to the popularity of the sport in the country, a number of the teams they will compete against are from Central America, Europe, and Australia as well.
The level six divisions are open to male and female cheerleaders 17 and older, with the Premier team consisting of three males and 21 females.
“Level six is the highest level you can compete in for all-star cheerleading – the girls can do their flips in the tosses at this level and it allows for them to build pyramids that are over two people high so it’s quite advanced,” she explained. “The team recently came to Red Deer and local teams had the chance to try stunting with male cheerleading and that was a first for most of our girls. ”
The international team was in the City as part of a fundraising initiative to help fund the $36,000 price tag associated with the trip to Worlds.
“So getting the team to Orlando is a lofty expense in itself and around $1,500 per person so we are just hoping to help them as much as possible,” said Riana. “Most of our athletes are students – so this means they are going to school, cheerleading a number of times a week, while often maintaining part-time jobs and trying to have time for a social life.”
She attributes the Worlds bid to the determination shown by the team in the last year, stating the progression and dedication shown throughout the season not only by the athletes as individuals but also as a team was outstanding.
“It was rocky to start as it is for any new team,” she explained. “So during the first couple of events they were running a more basic routine but as the season progressed they added a lot more of their skill into it and a lot of complexities into the routine.”
She said it was easy to floor a high caliber team in a city of a million people, and is now turning her eye back to Red Deer as they hope to create their open teams in the coming year.
“We were maxed out on space for the last few years and it was a struggle to find the space to grow,” she explained. “But over the winter we moved into a new space and we are just finishing it off in the next couple of months and hopefully will be fully expanded by May with more than 10,000 square feet of space to expand even further.”
Riana said she first started Premier because of her love for cheer, children, and teaching. Together the dynamic duo runs both of the locations full-time.
“So it’s been quite amazing to see it grow to the point it is today,” she said. “We are trying to do more than just teach kids how to flip and tumble – we are building community leaders within the kids,” she said.
“One of the big things we hear from parents is the increase in self esteem in their kids – they tend to become more outgoing after they’ve been a part of the program for a while.”