Okanagan Firestorm takes first place in world competition

Winning on the world stage

The Okanagan Firestorm Cheerleading team has made history after being crowned champions on the world stage in Orlando, Florida last weekend, becoming only the second B.C. team to ever win the event.

After taking fourth at the invite-only ESPN Wide World of Sports competition last year, Okanagan Firestorm owner and coach Nikki Parrotta says her team worked extremely hard this year not only to return, but also come out with a better result.

"Our big goal all season was to earn our way back to the summit and place in the top three. Not only did we place in the top three, but we ended up winning the whole thing. It was amazing," said Parrotta.

Sixteen athletes on Okanagan Firestorm between the ages of 16 and 29 outlasted six other teams in their division to take first place, knocking off well-known teams from all over Europe.

With a total of 5,000 cheerleaders and 350 teams at the world competition, space and time was limited, leaving no room for error as each team was only promised one performance.

Parrotta says when the time came, her team was dialled-in with their technique and timing, helping them stay a step ahead of the competition as they punched their ticket to day two of the competition.

"The girls have been training technique and we’ve had amazing choreographers working with us all season and a lot of great people backing us through this," said Parrotta.

Okanagan Firestorm would compete one more time, capturing first and returning home with gold, putting Kelowna on the map as a serious place for cheerleaders.

“Cheer has always been big in major cities, but here in Kelowna, half the time people don’t even know it exists and if they do, they think of pom poms and rah rah sideline cheers," Parrotta said.

"They don’t think about the sport of cheerleading, so this is huge. Americans would refer to us as a little town in the middle of nowhere in B.C., but we just won an international title that teams and coaches spend their entire careers chasing.”

It was a bit of a perfect ending for the team and the cheerleading facility in Kelowna as they are set to close their doors at the end of the month after 12 years of cheer in Kelowna.

"This was a fairytale ending because we made the decision earlier this year with life challenges and focus on family that we are going to actually close our doors at the end of the season, at the end of the month. There is another program that’s going to be opening in Kelowna, but our chapter is closed.”

While the Okanagan Firestorm celebrate this win, Parrotta will be soaking in every last second she has with the team before making a return to international judging for the sport.

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