Entertainment

Malaysia's Own Cheerleading Pioneer Wants Us To Stop Underestimating The Pom Pom Squad

It was way back in high school when her love for dance and cheer began. “I was incredibly shy and reserved. But when the school team called for cheer tryouts, despite my shyness, I decided to give it a shot!” Jaymee Tan told Vulcan Post.

Jaymee later got selected and went on to become the captain of her cheer team and it gave her a sense of accomplishment, choreographing a routine, and leading the team to success.

It’s been several years since her cheer days, but Jaymee relives that same cheer passion every single day, by being a coach, judge and also, owner of Cheer Aspirations, a cheerleading company in Malaysia, which provides among other things, corporate cheerleading performances, apparel, props and cheer merchandise.

Vulcan Post spoke to Jaymee recently on what she does, and why even after all this while, she, like all cheer girls do, holds on to a bit of ‘5, 6, 7, 8!’ wherever she goes.

Bringing On The Cheers

jaymee1

Jaymee has been the coach, owner and director for Cheer Aspirations for more than 5 years now, and she shares the secret to what keeps her going.

“It’s simple really. What keeps me going through all the ups and downs, especially with all the challenges in pioneering an industry is nothing else but passion. It’s this indescribable, consuming love for the sport!” Jaymee shared enthusiastically.

Passion is what drives her to manage more than 30 teams as well as coaches in her company, whilst at the same time personally coaching several of the teams as well. In fact, a defining moment in her career has been coaching one of her teams to become a 6-time consecutive national champion.

“Being one of the pioneers in cheerleading, I am fortunate to have coached many amazing cheerleading teams to major successes. One of them has been ranked national champions for six consecutive years. When I first started coaching them, this team was only ranked 21st place,” Jaymee said.

Not Just Pom Poms

Image Credit: Cheer Aspirations Facebook
Image Credit: Cheer Aspirations Facebook

Driving a team up by 20 spots in the rankings requires patience and dedication, and that is what Jaymee exudes. It might appear as if passion and fun is all Jaymee Tan is made of, when it comes to the cheer realm. But she is far more than that. She is in fact adamant on driving a significant change.

“When anyone mentions the word ‘cheerleader’, the common perception is a not-so-bright girl wearing a sexy outfit and shaking some pom poms. It is sad, but we are slowly and surely working hard to change that perception,” Jaymee said.

In fact, in the global scene, cheerleading is recognised as a sport by the SportAccord, which is the international organisation for all sports federations.

Still, Jaymee notes that it is understandable that some may have the perception that cheerleading is not a sport due to negative portrayal by the media. Hence, if one assumes that being pretty alone would cut it, they definitely have not seen a cheerleader in action before.

“Imagine a cheerleader being thrown 20 feet up into the air, who then flips upside down, twists and is then caught safely by her team mates, all with a smile on their face,” Jaymee shared. For male cheerleaders on the other hand, they would lift and toss female cheerleaders up in the air, and hold them up, all with just one arm. It’s like “tossing and catching weights but in the form of humans, as Jaymee puts it.

All The Right Moves

Image Credit: Jaymee Tan

Having been associated with cheer for a large portion of her life, it is no doubt that the sport has shaped Jaymee in many ways. She relayed, “I still remember the very first time I performed in front of an audience, I was doing my best to smile but I was told after the performance that I looked really nervous despite my best efforts. Since that day, I taught myself to smile genuinely and perform as confidently as I can.”

Confidence has brought her this far, both personally and corporately. Jaymee has judged all around the world, including in Europe, Australia and Asia, but she personally sees how there is massive potential for the sport to grow in Malaysia, especially at a recreational level.

Ultimately, it is Jaymee’s goal to turn cheerleading into a household sport in schools throughout Malaysia. Sports does not get as big a focus in Malaysia compared to Western countries, but she believes that sports should go hand in hand with academics in order to develop well-rounded youth in Malaysia.

“I strongly believe cheer is the way to equip our youth with skills they need for the future—being a team player, having discipline, commitment, dedication, leadership, positivity. If our leaders had all of these traits and more, I would rest easy knowing the world is in good hands,” Jaymee concluded.

Feature Image Credit: Jaymee Tan

 

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