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Moose Jaw’s Robinson looks back on Cheerleading Worlds win

Central student part of Rebels Cheerleading Athletics team Smoke that won the world championship at the end of April

It’s been just under a month since Regina’s Rebels Cheerleading Athletics Team Smoke accomplished something no other team from Saskatchewan had even come close to doing.

Ever since their win in the International Open Five division at the Cheerleading Worlds in Orlando, Fla. at the of May, it’s been a whirlwind of congratulations and constant amazement at their incredible accomplishment -- and rightfully so, given the calibre of competition and skill on display from all the teams at the event.

And Moose Jaw’s own Kendall Robinson has been a part of it all.

Robinson, a 15-year-old student at Central Collegiate, was right there on stage with her teammates when judges announced that RCA Smoke had pulled off their feat, leading to celebrations that continued into this past week with a special Gold Party at Local and Fresh in Regina last Thursday night.

“It’s kind of like a dream come true, ever since I was young doing cheer I’ve been wanting to do something this crazy and I think it’s pretty surreal,” Robinson said. “The last couple of weeks have been really fun, spending a lot of time with my teammates mostly and just remembering everything that happened.”

RCA Smoke had put together a solid season leading into Worlds, but as one would expect, when you’re up against the best teams from all over Canada and the rest of the planet, expectations were high but tempered.

Smoke arrived in Orlando a week in advance with a straightforward plan -- get prepared and most importantly acclimated to the environment before hitting the stage.

That strategy was the first step in their success in Robinson’s eyes.

“It was very important, a crucial part of how well we did,” she said. “We were able to get used to the heat and practicing outside helped us quite a bit.”

Then the competition started. And once the semifinal round wrapped up, RCA Smoke found out they had something serious going on -- when the scores were announced, they weren’t just off to Finals, they were in first place with a bullet, having put up 123.4 points, well ahead of Rising Stars Eclipse from the United Kingdom at 119.3.

“It was crazy and amazing,” Robinson said. “Our whole team was so excited because we were in first, and going to the finals in first place isn’t something that happens very often… we didn’t want to get our hopes up too much, Finals are really big to make but there are also some really good teams there as well.”

Even with that preliminary success, there was still one more performance in front of the judges, and while coach Eric Bestvater said there were a few small issues that might have hurt their score, the chance was still there.

On the stage during the performance, the girls of Smoke were giving it their all.

“It was very fun, very high energy and everyone was having a good time,” said Robinson about their final time on the stage. “The team was really excited just to have the chance to be there.”

Then it was time for the World championship announcement. RCA Smoke huddled on the stage as team name after team name was called until only they and Rising Stars Eclipse remained.

And then came the moment.

‘The 2022 World Championship is going home with…. Smoke!’

“It was almost surreal, that moment plays in my head all the time,” Kendall said. “It’s very intense, we’ve finished our performance, we’re all holding hands and telling each other that no matter what happens we had a really good season. And then when they said we won, it was just incredible.”

Since that time, it’s been one long celebration, even including a stop at the Saskatchewan Legislature to be honoured by the provincial government.

Even a month on, it’s all still a bit hard to believe for Robinson, even though they truly did pull off an accomplishment of a lifetime.

“It took a couple of days [to sink in] maybe, and sometimes I still don’t think it’s real,” Robinson said. “It’s all been so amazing.”

Now, it’s on to the future.

Rebel Cheerleading Athletics team Smoke are now defending world champions, and with that comes the pressure to repeat -- pressure Robinson is sure her crew is up for.

“I think we’ll do really well next year, too,” she said. “I think we can come back even stronger next year and show what we can do again.”