At 39, Rachel Furze never imagined she would be competing at a state level in a new sport.

But almost three years ago, she became inspired to join a new adult cheerleading group in Bendigo after taking her daughter to classes.

“I was a netball and tennis player. I never did dance, so it’s been something different but heaps of fun,” Ms Furze said.

“My daughter started when she was four.

Rachel Furze says she was inspired to start cheerleading after watching her daughter Skyla.(

Source: Supplied 

)

Fellow mother Bernadette Perez-Rodhe too joined the Blitz-Volcanoes team.

Ms Perez-Rodhe, 26, said she found it difficult to return to professional dancing after having her sons, now aged two and four.

So she decided to take up cheerleading.

“After having kids, I found it hard to go back to my dance background because it was too many hours and more than I could commit to — where this is an hour and a half,” Ms Perez-Rodhe said.

Women standing with first place sign.
Due to previous pandemic restrictions, the team had far less training ahead of their first major competition in more than a year.(

Photo: Ashley Benstead 

)

Exercising for fun

The team came first at the Australian All Star Cheerleading Federation state competition in Melbourne on Sunday.

The Blitz-Volcanoes compete in a special adult division that does not involve cartwheels, flips, or tumbles but stunts and dance.

“When we do a jump, we can have a giggle because we’ve all had kids,” Ms Perez-Rodhe said.

Woman standing and smiling at camera.
Coach Kim Manallack-Benstead says the mothers are extremely dedicated and competitive.(

ABC Central Victoria: Sarah Lawrence

)

Coach Kim Manallack-Benstead said due to previous pandemic restrictions, the team had far less training ahead of their first major competition in more than a year.

“Last year during lockdown, they were committed to training online in their lounge rooms or bedrooms, which is hard to learn choreography,
 Ms Manallack-Benstead said.

“The last seven weeks, they have put this routine together because last year we couldn’t stunt, so even when we were in the gym they had to social distance.”

Blitz competing 2
The team competing at the Australian All Star Cheerleading Federation event in Melbourne. (

Source: Ashley Benstead

)

Ms Manallack–Benstead said the mothers were extremely dedicated.

“They’re all understanding of each other that they’re adults, and they have jobs and kids — but they have fun, and there is always laughter at training.

Six women holding up another woman who is standing.
Members say the team is competitive but fun and supportive.(

ABC Central Victoria: Sarah Lawrence

)

“We joke about doing a routine one day between the cheering parents and their children. It would be really cute.”

‘Mum is cool’

Ms Perez-Rohde said she found the sport had made her feel stronger.

“I’ve lost a lot of my baby weight from stunting because you’re using so many muscles in your body, but it doesn’t feel like a massive workout,” she said.

“We’re all quite competitive, but we all have that fun factor as well.”

Selfie of mum with two toddlers holding medals and smiling.
Bernadette Perez-Rohde says her sons think she is very cool.(

Source: Supplied. 

)

The cheerleader’s two toddlers also adore seeing their mother return from competitions.

“They think it’s fantastic when I come home from a competition with a bow in my hair, Ms Perez-Rohde said.

“They put on my medals. They just think it’s so cool that mum goes to cheer.

woman bracing a child being held up in a cheerleading stunt.
Coach Kim Manallack-Benstead teaches people of all ages and abilities how to cheer. (

Source: Supplied

)

The mothers say the sport brings plenty of  cheer into their lives.

“I love competing. It’s super exciting just to be on the floor again after so long,” Ms Perez-Rohde said.

“It’s time that I get to do something I really enjoy.”

three women being held up by three other women.
The adult team trains once a week. (

ABC Central Victoria: Sarah Lawrence 

)

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