REDBLACKS Cheer and Dance Week – The Rookies

Every day this week Ottawa Life will be profiling the Ottawa REDBLACKS Cheer and Dance Team. Articles will feature spotlights on team captains, alumni and veterans but today we take a look at the new rookies.

As the Ottawa REDBLACKS are in their fourth year so is there Cheer and Dance team. They have members who have been with the team since the first year and those who just joined this year, aka The Rookies! I recently had the chance t o catch up with Erin and Marko. Erin is a rookie on the dance team and Marko is making his first appearance on the cheer team.

What is your occupation?

Marko: I recently graduated Carleton University. Currently working on a contract with the Federal Public Service. I am also working on attaining my Personal Training Specialist Certification as I want to be a personal trainer/fitness coach.

Erin: Federal Public Servant

You’re both new to the team, what are your impressions so far?

Marko: It is a great program full of amazing people. This team brings together some of the best dancers and stunters in Ottawa and creates a family.

Erin: I love being a dancer for the Ottawa REDBLACKS! Everyone on the team is so talented and supportive, as are the fans of R-Nation. I really missed dancing and performing so joining the team has really been a dream come true.

Erin, congratulations on being awarded Valedictorian at your University this year, tell us about that.

Erin: Yes, I was the valedictorian for the June 2017 convocation for the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ottawa. Throughout my undergraduate degree I was very involved in student life. I was the vice President of Philanthropy for the Communication Students' Association followed by a term as President. I also represented the Faculty of Arts on the Board of Administration for the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa. Due to my involvement in school, the co-op program, and the fact I graduated with honours I was elected as valedictorian of the class. I spoke at both the morning and afternoon convocation ceremonies. In the morning ceremony, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau showed up and I got the pleasure of meeting and giving my class address in front of him.

Marko, you are one of the few men on the team. What got you interested in cheerleading?

Marko: One of my friends caught me as I was leaving the gym and asked me to come out for her cheer team. At first, I had no interest, but once I saw the stunting in person, I fell in love with the sport and never looked back. It combined my passions for fitness and performance.

What would you say to young boys interested in cheerleading?

Marko: Cheerleading changed my life and I wish I had started earlier. Whether it’s competitive or performance, it's a unique sport that allows you to test your physical capacities, meet amazing people and entertain in amazing ways! Ignore the stigmas and stereotypes, they are outdated. I think it's really important to step out of your comfort zone, especially with this sport. Calling myself a cheerleader was hard at first, and sometimes still is – but I took a chance with this sport and it has become one of my greatest passions. It really speaks to the idea that "life begins outside your comfort zone." Jump into new experiences, work hard and do amazing things!

What do you like to do outside of your work with the team?

Erin: Outside of the team I am a dedicated aerialist( like Cirque du Soleil). I am trained in many disciplines and I compete across North America. I am also a delegate competing for the title of Miss Universe Canada this fall. As a delegate, I am working with Operation Smile to raise funds and community awareness for this organization leading up to the pageant.

Marko: Outside of the team, my personal interests are bodybuilding and personal training as fitness has always been an important part of my life. This also includes recreational and competitive sports (soccer, rugby, boxing, stunting). I'm also a musician, so working on performance technique and working with new talent in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal. I'm a huge fan of music festivals and I travel to all of the hot spots throughout the summer to enjoy the best and newest music.

What is something that would surprise most people about your experience on the team or cheerleading in general?

Marko: I started cheerleading exactly one year ago and since then have joined 5 cheer teams. Ottawa Sooners, Ravens Rhythm, Carleton University Competitive Cheer Team, Flyers All-Starz and our very own Ottawa Redblacks. These are all amazing teams where I fell further in love with the sport and places where I met some of my closest and hopefully life long friends.

Erin: I think that most people would be surprised with how much time goes in to what we do. Most of us on the team have been dancing or cheerleading since we were kids and we've put countless amounts of hours dedicated to our craft. We also practice on a weekly basis to learn new routines and we volunteer our time outside of practice and game days to volunteer in the community.

What’s your favourite movie?

Marko: The Lion King / Pirates of the Caribbean

Erin: I love Disney movies but I can also quote every line of Mean Girls so those would be my favourites.

Thanks for the time

Erin: Thank you

Marko: Thanks Keith