Athlete of the Month August 2018- Cheerleading

Derry MacKinnon – Pegasus Cheer Athletics

By Total Sports

13 year old Derry MacKinnon, a student at Centennial Secondary School recently took a timeout to participate in a Q and A session with Total Sports Quinte. Congratualtions to Derry for being selected our Athlete of the Month!

TSQ: Which coaches most influenced your Pegasus career?

Derry: I have been Cheering at Pegasus Cheer since I started in 2016. The coaches who have influenced me the most would be Michelle Plummer, Liz Yntema and T.J. Blaind. 

TSQ: What attracted you to Pegasus Cheer Athletics?

Derry: I was doing gymnastics at first and had a friend in my neighbourhood who had started going to cheer. I decided to try a recreational class and was asked to fill in as a flyer on a competitive team, after doing that I was hooked. 

TSQ: How do you train away from the Pegasus facility?

Derry: When I am at home, I try and work out everyday. I do an abdominal YouTube video and I follow a conditioning program given to me by the gym. I also take my dog, Angus, on walks during the day/evenings. I have a stretch-strap contraption that my mom has hooked up to my closet door that I use to maintain and increase my flexibility. I also have a trampoline at home that I am on regularly in my back yard practicing my tucks, jumps and handsprings. 

TSQ: What are your strengths as a Pegasus Cheer Athlete?

Derry: My strengths have changed over the years as I used to be a flyer and now I am a base. I have pretty good tumbling skills that I continually work on and I am pretty proud of my jumps. In Cheer, performance is a large part of scoring at competitions. I am often asked to demonstrate performance when refining our routines for competition. 

TSQ: Where do you most need to improve?

Derry: There are so many things I want to improve on- some tumbling- specifically tucks and layouts; flexibility for my jumps and basing my flyers- different grips and vocabulary for each stunt.

TSQ: What made you interested in joining the Coaches in training? 

Derry:  I love being at the gym and working with people, and kids. Being a coach in training allows me to participate in camps, get my volunteer hours for high school. As well, all my friends were doing it and I want to eventually try coaching as well. 

TSQ: Where has cheer athletics improved the most since you started?

Derry: The number of competitions have grown, we have been able to compete at higher levels and we are excited when we show well. The variety of clinics has increased and we had a choreographer last year for our routines. 

TSQ: How is Pegasus Cheer dealing with social distancing and what measures have you had to take to modify your normal procedures?  Describe also the virtual class structure. 

Derry: Cheer is much harder with the social distancing. The classes and camps are now limited to a small number of participants. We are very vigilant with cleaning and hand sanitizing during our practices. We have not been able to stunt, so we have been working more on our conditioning and flexibility. We are supposed to have some outdoor classes as well, as long as the weather behaves. The virtual classes were run from March to June. We ran them over Zoom and then they were archived on YouTube. I ran Tumbling Tots, Warriors, and FUNdamentals with a coach. I used my basement and my iPad. I had to make sure that I wasn’t disturbed by my dog or little sisters, Arlie and Leni. It wasn’t the same as being in the gym but I was very happy to have something 

to do while being at home during the day and it kept me active and 

engaged in Cheer. It was a fun way to connect with the gym and my friends who were also Zoom coaching.

TSQ: Best Cheer memory to date?

Derry: My best Cheer memory was at OFC Nationals when my team, “Charge”, won in 2019. We were so excited, and the banner is hanging proudly in the gym!

TSQ: Worst Cheer memory to date?

Derry: My shoe fell off in the middle of Cheer Evolution Nationals on my first team ever in 2017. I was very upset. After that, an older athlete tied my shoes every practice and competition. 

TSQ: Advice for young Cheer athletes with aspirations?

Derry: Go for it! It’s so much fun, and the gym is like a big family. There is always someone to talk too, and your coaches and fellow athletes will cheer you on every step of the way! I’ve had such a wonderful experience with my gym, and have loved every second of it. No matter your skill level, we have a class or team you can be included in!

TSQ: Career interests beyond Cheer?

Derry: I have a passion for writing, and would love to be an author, but I would also love to work in the medical field helping people in a hospital or clinic someday.