Aubrey Norby of Mabel stays fit through competitive cheerleading. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Aubrey Norby of Mabel stays fit through competitive cheerleading. SUBMITTED PHOTO
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“Cheerleading is a sport,” says Mabel teen Aubrey Norby, who spends a great deal of her time away from studies practicing for what is called “competitive cheerleading.”

The homeschooled freshman discovered the sport in seventh grade. “I started cheering for Mabel-Canton. At first I didn’t know what competitive cheerleading was, but we went to a high school cheer competition and I was pretty interested in it,” Aubrey said. “Since a high school cheer squad does not compete right now, I looked into competitive teams in the area and found one in Decorah.”

Her team is “Dolphin Xtreme II,” which is based in Decorah. There are currently 10 youth on her team.

“November to February we have our competitions. We practice hard all year long,” she explained. “And then we have nationals in March.”

Nationals are something her team has qualified for after a competition at the Mall of America, which will send Aubrey and her team to Orlando, Fla., in March to compete against teams from across the nation.

Aubrey explained that competitive cheerleading is a “completely different perspective of cheerleading.” They learn routines to music that includes different stunts, jumps, tumbling and dancing. They compete against other regional teams for the chance to go to nationals.

She describes it as a combination of gymnastics, dance and cheer that involves hard work and discipline.

“Learning the stunts is fun and challenging,” Aubrey said. “The tumbling part is really fun because it teaches you to shoot for high goals and you can learn really fun things like backhand spring and running and tumbling.”

Aubrey’s passion for the sport has also had an effect of her younger sister, Halle, who is also on the team.

Competitive cheerleading is not about cheering a specific ‘team,’ but is rather about competing against other teams, Aubrey explained.

Over the past year, Aubrey said competitive cheerleading has benefited her in employing healthy habits and self-discipline.

“It requires lots of strength and flexibility,” she elaborated. “You have to eat healthy and have a balanced diet. You have to make sure you work out a lot. I have to push myself to really high standards. A lot of hard work and commitment goes into our practice.”

Aubrey and Halle are the daughters of Jason and Sunshine Norby of Mabel.