Thursday, February 9, 2023
February 9, 2023

McIntyre on world championship cheer team

By MARCIA JANSEN

As a teenager, Darby McIntyre was one of the best gymnasts in our country. Since studying at the University of Victoria, she has found a new passion: cheerleading. 

McIntyre’s skill and passion recently contributed to the Vikes cheer team winning gold at the University World Cup Cheerleading Championships. 

The Salt Spring woman  and her teammates trained for the world championships for over two years, as the event was cancelled two years in a row due to the pandemic. In Disney World from Jan. 13 to 15, the Vikes not only won their all-girls team division, but also the Nations Cup, awarded to the highest-scoring team out of all 15 teams from around the globe. 

“It is crazy, I still can hardly believe it,” said the 23-year-old McIntyre. “We didn’t have any expectations going there. Our coaches wanted us to just do well and get experience at this level. At the first day of the event, which is an exhibition, we saw our competition and we hoped that we could make the top three.” 

On the second day, the Vikes team pulled off a technically perfect routine, which was rewarded by the judges without any deductions. 

“We had an amazing routine and made no mistakes, but when we heard that we won, I was definitely in shock,”  she said.

McIntyre, born and raised on Salt Spring Island, competed as a gymnast at a national level. She commuted daily to Duncan to train, but retired from gymnastics in 2017 to focus on her last year of high school. 

After a gap year, when she coached gymnastics on Salt Spring Island, McIntyre started at the University of Victoria. With one more year to go, she is completing a major in Psychology and a minor in Indigenous Studies.  

“I started playing softball in my first year, but when I was at Thunderfest, the kick-off festival of the school year, the softball booth was right across from the cheerleading booth. I recognized a girl who was also in gymnastics and she told me to come to the try-outs.” 

McIntyre made the team and eventually chose cheer over softball.  

“Cheer is just a better fit for me. I love how I can incorporate my gymnastic skills in cheerleading. It has a lot of similarities to gymnastics, but it is also very different. Gymnastics is such an individual sport, and now I am working towards goals as a team. It is so special when you can share your successes with others.” 

In the squad, McIntyre is one of the main “bases” and “pyramid posts,” which means that she has one or two girls on her shoulders and lifts flyers into the air. 

“When we form a pyramid, I am at the bottom,” McIntyre explained. “The back bases are usually the tallest girls, the main bases are a little bit less tall, and the flyers are the lightest girls. I also do a lot of tumbling, which was my best event in gymnastics.” 

 The Vikes Cheer Club is undefeated in B.C. since 2017. The next big event for the team is the B.C. provincial championships on March 4-5 in the Victoria Conference Centre.

McIntyre is looking forward to it: “Our goal is to keep winning!”  

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