Medicine Hat, AB - The Medicine Hat Stingerz cheer-leading team is gearing up for their first competition of the season this weekend.
This will be the second 'Swarm the Hat' event and Stingerz Coach Debbie Schultz says this years event has certainly garnered more interest.
"We've doubled the amount of clubs that are coming and tripled the amount of athletes," explained Schultz. "Last years event went so well and I think the word got out that it's worth coming to."
That speaks to the rising popularity of the sport here in Medicine Hat, as Stingerz athlete numbers have increased from 20-100 since the clubs inception six-years ago.
"Years ago, our club had two teams and now we have seven. It seems like we make a young team and then there's even younger boys and girls interested and so we end up having to make another team.
Not only is the sport growing in popularity, but they're also shattering the stereotype of what a typical cheerleader is.
"A lot of people have a misconception about cheer-leading. They see it as girls wearing not a lot of clothes and shaking their pom-poms at football games. Stingerz is not that kind of cheerleading. This is high-level stuff."
Marshall says her teams are ready to showcase their sport and show Hatters they can do much more than just wave pom-poms in the air.
"The first event is primarily your indies and duos. It's also our really young teams. If you're wanting to see the high-flyers, you're definitely going to want to come to event two. That's where a lot of our higher levels will be competing."
Representing Medicine Hat at this years event will be the Stingerz and Ultimate Cheer Fusion.
Teams coming from out of town include: Brooks, Moose Jaw, Strathmore and Weyburn.
Schultz hopes to see this event continue to see growth.
"For last years event, we rented a small-portion of the Cypress Centre. This year we've expanded with double the rental space in the Cypress Centre. If we continue to grow we'll hopefully be able to go to the Canalta Centre. The Canalta is a great venue and would work so well for our athletes, coaches and especially our spectators."
In regards to this years event, Schultz says the Stingerz athletes have one goal in mind.
"Six-years ago we were just happy with going to competitions. That progressed to excitement when we were able to beat teams and then last year, we came home with lots of 1st, 2nd and 3rd place banners and that's what we're aiming for all season long."
Tickets for this years 'Swarm the Hat' event are $15 and can be purchased at the Auditorium doors of the Cypress Centre. The show runs from 10 a.m - 4 p.m.
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