Devynn Ulliac has no problems with being hoisted in the air by her peers.
The 12-year-old Lake Country cheerleader recently travelled with her Okanagan Firestorm Intensity teammates to compete in the UCA International All Star Championship March 9-11 in Orlando, Florida.
They came back with a large, shiny trophy and second place.
What started with dancing at two-years-old grew into cheerleading at six, said her mother Amanda Ulliac.
“It was very exciting, everybody was crying, I don’t get happy tears, but super excited but happy about it,” Amanda said. “She was super excited, it was surreal.”
Devynn said she enjoyed seeing other cheerleaders perform, like her idol Ryan Cummings, with Cheer Extreme Senior Elite.
“I was sort of surprised,” she said, when she was told the team finished second with a score of 96.22 out of 100.
For the past six years, Devynn has been with the Okanagan Fire Storm, competing in tournaments around B.C.
The Grade 7 student at George Elliot Secondary is the only cheerleader on the Intensity team from Lake Country, Amanda said. She hopes to one day compete in the Olympics.
Amanda said the pair also received help from the Lake Country community, and was able to fundraise for their trip by collecting bottles.
Placing in the top three means the team qualified for U.S. Finals which takes place May 11-12 in Las Vegas. They were selected from roughly 1,000 qualifying teams, said Nikki Parrotta, co-owner of Okanagan Firestorm Cheerleading and head coach with Intensity. The 24 girls, ages 11 to 16, won one of 30 bids.
“This was a giant accomplishment,” she said, adding Intensity was the first team from B.C. to ever participate in this competition. Intensity was one of eight teams competing from Trinidad, Columbia, the United States and Canada.
On top of normal cheerleading practice, Intensity members spent an extra roughly 12 hours a month on top of their already busy training schedules to nail down the routine for Florida.
On the regular competitive team, the girls spend four to six hours a week training. Intensity featured girls from Lake Country to Peachland.
“We were over the moon, placing at UCA is hard to do let alone in top 3, our goal is to hit zero which means a clean routine,” Parrotta said.