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Meet the World Champion Scarborough Cheerleading Squad that Took America by Storm

The Senior team as they were crowned World Champions The Senior team as they were crowned World Champions
May 2024
Reading time 3 Minutes

Scarborough is known for many things but turning out world champion athletes hasn't always been one of them - until now

Living North catches up with head coach of the East Coast Tigers Jess Mortimer to find out about their whirlwind trip to the All Star World Cheerleading Championships, and the shock win that has made them world champions.

The only competitive cheerleading programme in the area, Scarborough’s East Coast Tigers know a thing or two about blood, sweat and tears after placing first at the All Star World Championships in Florida. But the road to success was not an easy one.

‘To get a place over there in the first place, you have to be awarded a bid [an invitation to compete] from a competition over here. We never dreamed that we would even get that bid, but two of our teams were lucky enough last season [2023] to receive a bid each,’ explains head coach Jess Mortimer, who set up East Coast Tigers in 2007 and accepts girls from the age of four. ‘So our junior level one got a bid last March, and then our senior level one got a bid last June and we decided that we would do it.’

Securing a spot was one thing, but getting that many young girls to Florida was quite another and was in no way a guarantee, let alone placing in the final. ‘It’s probably the biggest thing for us that we’ve ever had to organise,’ Jess says. ‘Normally we just compete around the UK for a day out, but this was 10 days on the other side of the world without most of the parents of the kids that were coming.’ Fundraising was crucial, and after a lot of hard work they finally secured all of their funding and were taken across by coaches Olivia Hall and Chelsea Baxter.

An action shot from the seniors routine at the Allstar World Championships Seniors routine at the Allstar World Championships

‘You know when your team are pretty good, and my girls are good, but so are all of the other teams,’ Jess explains. ‘You have to have a score sheet when you go to a competition and you have to do things a certain way. You’re expected to show a certain degree of technique, follow different ratios, and if you don’t follow those ratios you can’t hit the higher scores – it’s very technical. You never know because you’re judged against the other teams and you don’t know what their routine is like. They could be a bit more difficult than us, they could have more athletes that can do more things, or they might have put an extra stunt in that we didn’t put in.’ Besides that, the choreographing for the routine is incredibly technical, with the cheer split into 44 count of eight, rules about what stunts can be attempted based on the level of the team, and a set time that must be hit.

‘On the day when you’re competing, absolutely anything can happen because the nerves are just out of this world. It’s those nerves, they can literally make you forget your own name, let alone be able to hold an athlete above your head steady and do all of the things that you need to do.’

But the hard work paid off for the senior team. ‘The next hurdle was whether we would get through to the finals,’ she says. ‘Both of our teams competed in the semi finals on day one and unfortunately the junior team didn’t get through to the finals, but the senior team did. They competed again the next day and then they won.

‘I was at home live-streaming it, and thankfully the stream was so close to their faces I could just see they were crying, in absolute disbelief. One of the girls who has been with me since she was about eight years old is turning 18 this year, and I could see just how much it meant. It was just crazy.’

It’s been straight back to business for the team though, and at the time of speaking the squad had an upcoming national competition in Telford which is, we’re told, another big one. ‘We’ve chosen to go there off the back of worlds because we wanted them to still have that challenge,’ Jess explains. ‘You can pick easier competitions and when you are a programme that has a high standard like us, you can go to one and know if you’ve won that. For us though I like the challenge.’

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