Three cheers for teachers' global success

Teachers are leading the chant to get cheerleading on the sporting agenda in NSW public schools. Sophie Lambert reports.

Four women standing together on stairs. Four women standing together on stairs.
Image: Cheerleader champions, from left, Zabrina Li, Niki Ficsor, Mia Baptist and Peyton Kelly.

Tumbling and flying through the air with big smiles is just another day at work for four sporty teachers.

Teachers Mia Baptist (North Ryde Public School), Zabrina Li (Strathfield North Public), and Peyton Kelly (Boronia Park Public) are cheerleaders in a team coached by early childhood teacher Niki Ficsor (Victoria Avenue Children’s Centre).

Their team, the East Coast Allstars Nightingales, won an international first place in the Open All Girl Non-Tumble event and placed third in the Grand Champion division at the 2023 Global Dance + Cheer Games.

The Global Dance + Cheer Games is a four-day event in Hawaii that brings together the world’s best cheerleaders across an array of cheerleading styles.

Team member Mia Baptist said she started cheerleading as a hobby to keep fit while studying for her Bachelor of Education.

“I've now been cheering for six years and am keen to encourage NSW public schools to offer cheerleading as an organised sport,” Ms Baptist said.

“My hope is for more NSW public schools to gain an interest in cheerleading while giving it the platform and recognition it deserves.”

Zabrina Li said cheerleading has helped her promote active lifestyles to her students and teach them how to be leaders.

“I am working towards running a cheerleading workshop at our gym later this year to gather interest to hopefully start a cheer team in 2024 at Strathfield North,” Ms Li said.

“Cheerleading keeps you fit while teaching valuable life lessons in persistence and trust. It requires so much hard work and dedication.”

Niki Ficsor, coach of the East Coast Allstars Nightingales, has been coaching cheerleading for five years.

“I come from a gymnastics and cheerleading background, which led me to develop a love of sports,” she said.

“I can’t think of a better way to combine my passion for cheerleading and teaching than coaching.”

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