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Real Life

REAL LIFE: Meet the mum who decided to follow in her daughter's footsteps and become a cheerleader

She's got spirit!

By Elizabeth Dimopoulos

Rachel Furze, 39, Bendigo, Vic shares her inspiring story with Take 5's Elizabeth Dimopoulos:

Taking my seat on the sidelines, I watched my daughter, Skyla, four, perfectly balanced on the hands of her teammates in mid-air.
"Go, Skyla!" I cheered.
Skyla looked down at me, excitement written all over her face.
The energy in the room was magnetic as the other mums and I sat on the edge of our seats to see if the stunt would work.
Skyla had joined a cheerleading team three months earlier and I loved watching her practice.
She's so confident, I thought.
There's no way I could do that.
A few weeks later, I was watching training with my fellow cheer mums, chatting about how inspiring our daughters were.
One of the mums turned to me and asked: "How about we give it a go?"
As a 36-year-old, I was apprehensive at first.
The only sport I'd done was tennis but I realised it would be a good opportunity.
We decided to call ourselves Cheer N Dance.
Competing is so much fun. (Image: supplied)
Stepping on the mat for our first training session, I was extremely nervous.
As I waited for the music to begin, I started to doubt myself.
I'm not as young and flexible as I used to be, I thought.
What was I thinking joining a cheer team?
But as I moved in time with the music, a smile spread across my face.
After a few training sessions, I took to the stunts naturally and was picked to be main base, doing all the heavy lifting.
When my teammates flew through the air, it was my job to lift and catch them.
As the weeks passed, we grew closer to competition day.
In training we worked hard at mastering the pyramid formation.
A pyramid is two or more stunt groups connected by the flyers standing at the top.
This stunt is the most challenging as it requires individual groups to work for it to be effective.
At the Aussie Gold Cheer & Dance State Spectacular Competition in 2019. (Image: supplied)
After three months, comp day finally arrived.
I took a deep breath as I stared up at the huge crowd roaring with applause.
Taking my place on the mat, my heart was beating out of my chest.
Why do I do this to myself? I panicked.
But I couldn't back out now.
When the music started, I flicked my ponytail and showed my big smile to the three judges, hoping the lights would hide the fear in my eyes.
When the music started, my fear faded and I was overcome with a rush of excitement.
Once we finished, we rushed off stage, our faces beaming with pride.
As the judges deliberated, we huddled together and waited in silence.
"Taking home the bronze medal is Cheer N Dance!" the judge announced.
Looking up in the crowd I meet eyes with Skyla and my husband Brett, waving and cheering, they were so excited for me!
With my daughter. (Image: supplied)
Now, three years since our first comp, we have cheered our way to a few podium wins with two silver medals and our first gold.
Last year, during lockdown, my daughter and I practised our dance routines together in our living room.
This season we are excited to be back in the gym, working on a brand new routine and supporting each other.
Entering the cheer world, I was very aware of the negative stereotypes surrounding it.
But I've learned it doesn't matter about your age, your size or your ability - there is a team to fit everybody.
Cheerleading has been a really great environment to raise my daughter in.
The social aspect has taught her team work and the training has built her confidence.
Best of all, we're now closer than ever.
I want to encourage others to try something new, be confident and give everything a go.
It doesn't matter if I'm nervous – I'll always bring it on.

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