Athlete profile: Bison Cheer’s Mackenzie Gmiterek

Meet Mackenzie Gmiterek, a U1 student who has actively competed as a cheerleader since grade seven. This is her first season with Bison Cheer.

Coming from a sport-oriented family, Gmiterek has been active all of her life. Her family would go on skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling holidays in the winter, and summer comprised of time at their cottage swimming and waterskiing. At an early age, Gmiterek was enrolled in gymnastics, hockey and dance.

All of this early exposure to sports introduced Gmiterek to her first love — gymnastics; “I started gymnastics at the age of three and it soon became a passion of mine that lasted the next 13 years,” she explains. When her competitive gymnastics career came to an end, Gmiterek began coaching at her local gymnastics club in Beausejour. Her gymnastics experience provided a solid base for cheerleading.

It is the commute from Beausejour that Gmiterek finds the most challenging when it comes to her Bison cheerleading commitment. Spending so much time driving makes managing school, studying, cheerleading, work and training difficult to juggle at times. But this has not diminished Gmiterek’s enthusiasm for the sport which she likes because it is fun and keeps her in great shape: “We work very hard and practice at least five hours a week, and we also have a personal trainer to keep us focused so we can stay in great physical condition.” Gmiterek is also grateful for the solid friendships she has formed with her teammates.

Commenting on misconceptions about cheerleading, Gmiterek explains that “to most people, cheerleading is just an ‘activity’ that cheers on the ‘real sports,’ which couldn’t be more incorrect.” She continues, “Cheerleading is a sport in itself. It involves dancing, tumbling, stunting and jumping, all of which require strength, rhythm, flexibility and endurance.” This misconception is cleared up when you consider that there are national and local cheerleading competitions that showcase the talent and hard work of cheerleaders.

Next school year, Gmiterek hopes to enter the faculty of engineering, and upon completion of her degree plans to travel the world before returning to Canada to find engineering work. In her sparse spare time, Gmiterek can be found reading, baking and running.

Gmiterek participated in a local cheerleading showcase, called Stunt Evolution IV, this past Friday at the Investors Group Athletic Centre. Cheerleaders of all ages demonstrated that they are indeed taking cheerleading to a new level with impressive stunts and routines. Bison Cheer, Green Jackets, Fusion, Storm Cheer and Shooting Stars all enthusiastically participated in the event.