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A cheery outlook
Writer:Wayne Newton

CheerStrike Royals club’s three founders have made fun, friendship and passionate performance their business for four years.

It’s hard to tell who’s cheering the loudest in Hyde Park: the kids, the parents or the three owners of London’s newly expanded CheerStrike Royals. The four-year-old competitive and recreational cheer squad club just moved into a larger location at 1195 Gainsborough Rd. It’s third location in its short history. At 8,000 sq.ft., this is more than double the size of its previous location on Mallard Road. The Gainsborough location gives space to run two practices at once and provides a second-storey lounge for parents to watch their kids tumble, jump, dance, and punt their way to friendship, fitness and confidence. CheerStrike Royals, one of three cheer clubs in London, was the creation of Jill Maloney, Michelle Sinclair and Deborah Van Loon, each with a career, young family and a passion for cheer. “We were all busy people . . . as we launched, but ultimately we believed in our dream of this business,” said Maloney, a London high school teacher. “When the opportunity to start the club came to us, we knew if we didn’t take it . . . it would be our last chance. So we took it,“ she added. “All three of us are accountable, hard-working and support each other when we’re busy. It wouldn’t have worked without all three of us.” The club, which now has more than 200 young athletes in its competitive program, draws members primarily from fast-growing northwest London. However, it also has members from Arva, Ilderton, Strathroy, Byron, and Westmount. Competitive program members pay around $2,000 a season for training and to enter competitions, travelling to places such as Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Ottawa and Ohio. The season lasts 11 months, with May being the only idle time of year. “Moving to the larger location is a risk, but we knew our business couldn’t grow anymore in the location we were in,” Maloney said. “We have grown every year, so we based our risk on that trend.” “The most rewarding part of running this business is the relationships we’ve created with each other, our employees, our athletes and their families.” Competitive cheer, a judged sport, is open to girls and boys and attracts kids with skill in gymnastics and dance. The third element is punting or lifting, which gives competitive cheer its thrill. With so many options for youth sport in London, it’s not realistic to sign up every interested child for the competitive team, so CheerStrike Royals offers alternatives ranging from recreational tumbling lessons to 13-week sessions with 50 or 60 children. “The appeal is they can test it out and find out if they like it,” Maloney said. “It’s a popular option if your child is already in a competitive sport.” Competitions are within reasonable driving distance, sometimes without the need for a hotel. Athletic achievement is based on personal bests, not winning. Charity involvement, such as recently cheering at the Walk for a Cure fundraiser for diabetes, is part of the CheerStrike Royals program. “We work really hard to keep it light,” Mulroney said. “If you want to keep them in the sport, it can’t be stressful.” Maloney and Van Loon have been friends since Grade 9 and it’s that kind of strong, long-lasting friendship that CheerStrike Royals hopes to foster among its athletes. “Girls aged 12-14 especially, when there’s some meanness experienced, need each others’ support,” Maloney said. “We feel we’re helping parents raise their kids.” “We feel most proud when at a competition we see all of the Royal family cheering each other on and supporting all the teams. This community is linked to our business and we love how it’s improving lives.”