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Kinesiology student headed to international cheerleading competition

Memorial kinesiology student — and soon to be graduate — Laura Hurley is the first Newfoundlander named to the Canadian Cheerleading Team.

Ms. Hurley's mother enrolled her daughter in gymnastics when she was two years old.

"I apparently liked to climb around the furniture, so she figured a gym would be a good safe place for me," said Ms. Hurley, who eventually spent 12 years as a competitive gymnast. "I did well at gymnastics due to great coaching, and a lot of dedication. I stayed in gymnastics until I was 17."

In October she was asked by a member of the provincial cheerleading team to get involved, so she thought she'd give it a try. Then in February Ms. Hurley submitted a tryout video of her cheerleading routines to qualify for the All-Girl Canadian National Team. The video showed the athlete performing several different required stunts, followed by thirty seconds of tumbling and jump sequences. Two weeks later Ms. Hurley learned she made the cut.

"Making the team was pretty amazing," she said. "I am insanely new to the sport of cheerleading, so I was completely unaware of the possibility. When I found out I was extremely shocked, but very excited and honoured to be able to be able to represent the country at an international competition."

"There are a lot of misconceptions about cheerleading. Being a gymnast, it was pretty easy to stereotype the sport prior to my exposure to it," admitted Ms. Hurley. "However, the two-and-a-half minutes that you are on that floor performing is the hardest two-and-a-half minutes I have ever done. The routine is extremely demanding in terms of cardiovascular fitness and strength. Not only is it extremely exhausting and challenging, you also have to look good while doing it. It is a lot more difficult than I had originally anticipated, but it is a rush that is just incredible."

Being a gymnast has given Ms. Hurley the physical skills and the upper body strength required for stunts, and she says she loves being part of such a great team.

"I have a lot to give to a high energy, close knit environment."

The International Cheer Union World Cheerleading Competition will take place in Orlando, Fla., at the end of April. The Canadian team has won gold six times at this competition in previous years.