Valley cheer team trying to get a bid to worlds competition - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Valley cheer team trying to get a bid to worlds competition

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Cheerleaders are stepping off the sidelines and onto center stage to compete in a huge competition in March.

It's called "worlds" and the cheerleaders from the AZ Thunder Elite Cheer gym in Peoria are determined to take part.

Deborah Leyva, the owner of AZ Thunder Elite Cheer, said competitive cheerleading was a little slow to catch on in Arizona but now gyms are popping up all over the state.

"Cheerleading ... it has evolved. It's very demanding physically and mentally, so it really challenges these athletes and we're seeing growth, just enormous growth," said Leyva.

The guys and girls of all ages practice about nine hours a week. They learn how to tumble and stunt.

"You have to be really tight and then make sure that you don't really wiggle your foot as much," said 8-year-old Sydnie Coleson.

"I've always wanted to do this. Ever since I was really young, I was always like, 'mom, I want to be a cheerleader.' So this is like my dream come true," said 18-year-old Danielle Darnell.

The team still needs to compete to get a bid to go to the competition. But they believe they can do it and are already raising money.

And young people aren't the only ones competing.

The parents of the cheerleaders decided to get together and make a squad of their own.

Men and women, up to the age of 45, perform their own cheers and compete against other parent groups.

"I was kind of scared, though, because they wanted to throw me up in the air and they wanted me to do all kinds of stunting," said Susan Schmitz.

"All the girls think that we're the coolest thing when we walk in here and they all love us and they hug us and they just cheer for us when we go out there. So that's the fun part," added Schmitz.

Schmitz said it's lots of fun, it's a free workout and it's nice to get to know the other parents.

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