A CHEERLEADING club whose base was wrecked by a roof leak face a race against time to get the gym ship-shape in time for the lifting of lockdown.
Members of Rotherham Cheerleading Academy have been training on zoom since the first national lockdown was imposed only a few weeks after classes began.
And a “nightmare” year which the coaches said had been tough for everyone was made worse when water began dripping through the ceiling of their Parkgate HQ — with the problem deepening after heavy snowfall.
The leak seriously damaged both the facility’s electrics and its specialist sprung floor, which will cost around £5,000 to repair.
Megan McNeal, who runs the academy with fellow coaches Andrew Stanley and Craig Canning, said she was desperate to get students back to regular classes as soon as possible.
“The leak has been a nightmare on top of the Covid-19 nightmare,” she said.
“We only opened last March and then after about two weeks we were into the first lockdown.
“Most of the time we’ve been open we have been in this situation.
“We’ve had to spend a grant we got from Rotherham Council for being closed on it and until it is done, we won’t be able to bring the students back.
“Some of the kids are struggling mentally. We are doing six Zooms a week but it’s not the same and some of them just don’t like being on camera and don’t want to join.”
Megan said the academy coaches had contacted their landlord by email but not heard back from the about repairing the floor or the electrics so they had taken on the cost themselves.
She said she hoped the repairs could be carried out by mid-April, when the academy finally hopes to restart classes at its training centre in line with lifting of national restrictions.
“Some parents have talked about doing some fundraising because they really want to help and our usual fundraising activities like bag packing are not possible,” she said
The young cheerleaders have been busy during the most recent during lockdown.
As well as team bonding activities, they have raised over £600 for the Teenage Cancer Trust with a sponsored squat challenge which saw them each performing 100 exercises every day in February.
Mum Helen Geilhardt, whose 11-year-old daughter Laney is one of the students, praised the way the coaches had kept morale up over the past year.
“They have been training via zoom, doing a lot of strength and flexibility work, so when they return, they will just have to choreograph the routines,” she said.
“But there have also been team bonding activities like getting together to play Among Us (the video game) during half-term. They ran PE classes for children who were being home-schooled, too.
“The coaches have been great – they give up so much of their time.”
Megan said: “We want to do as much as we can to support them because cheer is all about building trust and team spirit because of what you do together. It’s important to keep them all in touch with each other.”