Candice Rawson (bottom, middle) with one of her previous cheerleading clubs. Photo supplied.

New cheerleading gym opens in the Comox Valley

All-star cheerleading is back in the Comox Valley.

A new Valley-based cheerleading gym (Forbidden All Star Cheerleading) opened in January.

It is one of just three all-star cheerleading gyms on Vancouver Island. The others — Island Elite and the Pacific Cheer Empire — are both located in Victoria.

The new gym does not currently have its own building but is booking school gymnasiums to use for classes.

Candice Rawson, the owner of the new gym, says all-star cheerleading is a great sport that combines elements from many other disciplines.

“It’s so different,” she said. “You have your classic dance and gymnastics, but this combines that [and adds] a whole other level.”

All-star cheerleading is different from what is seen at halftime during a sporting event. In all-star competitions, a team of athletes performs a choreographed 2.5-minute routine in front of a panel of judges.

“It’s so unique in that it combines a little bit of everything. Tumbling, dancing, stunting, strength, agility. It’s also about performance,” said Rawson.

“In a competition, you feel like a rock star. The lights, the music, the fans, your team. It’s just amazing.”

Rawson has 13 years of experience in all-star cheerleading as a participant, a coach, and as a judge. She got her start on the now-defunct Mark R. Isfeld Secondary cheer team in Courtenay, before competing with the Island Spirit Sports All-Star club, in Comox.

That club, which was run by Mia Heitland, is no longer in operation.

She later lived in Edmonton, where she said she cheered at some of the best gyms in Canada.

Since opening, the new gym has been running four-week intro classes for people of all ages. According to Rawson, about 40 people have participated in the classes so far.

She said the goal is to ultimately form teams to compete in provincial, national and international cheerleading competitions. The competition season begins in September.

“People are starting to recognize that this is an amazing sport,” she said.

For more information, visit or email

Just Posted

Dead rabbits found at Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds stoke concerns about Nanaimo virus

A B.C. wildlife veterinarian says a few of the dead bunnies will be sent for diagnosis next week.

Courtenay-Comox MLA talks water bottling business in Merville

Ronna-Rae Leonard remained neutral when asked if she opposes the proposed business

Pickleball courts to be built at Highland Park

Courtenay Rotary announces project Wednesday

UPDATE: Arrest made in north Courtenay shooting incident

Police have arrested one man in relation to a shooting north of… Continue reading

Vancouver Island’s Best Videos of the Week

A look at some of the best video stories from the past week ending March 16, 2018

Salmon Arm community cheers on Natalie Wilkie as she wins first gold medal

Local skier tops the podium in 7.5km race at the PyeongChang Paralympics

Experts: Society has a role in trying to prevent domestic violence

Experts are speaking out following the murder of a woman and her son in Ontario

Northern lights chasers in Canada discover new type named ‘Steve’

Phenomenon linked to a powerful current created by charged particles in Earth’s upper atmosphere

Progress on fixing Phoenix pay system backlog could be short-lived: Ottawa

Feds have said they won’t try to recover money overpaid until all outstanding issues are fixed

Washington state backs B.C. in pipeline dispute

Governor Jay Inslee says he is ‘allied’ with the province on Trans Mountain expansion projection

SAY WHAT? Readers weigh in on high-speed rail to U.S.

B.C. to contribute $300,000 to a million-dollar business study on the proposed project

B.C.-based CEO charged with conspiring to sell unhackable phones to criminals

Vincent Ramos of Richmond, was arrested last week in Seattle in years-long undercover operation

Public meeting planned to discuss protection of Union Bay’s drinking water

Newly formed Union Bay Watershed Protection Society to host meeting March 19

Most Read