Since the early 2000s, the sport of All-Star Cheerleading has grown steadily larger, with more and more girls and boys competing.
One such cheerleader is Jenee Cruise, famously known for her time with the California All Stars Smoed.
“Jenee is a very sweet soul. Having diabetes has made her tough and resilient, and I think that is what made her a great flyer and cheerleader,” Cruise’s mother, Tawne, said.
“We raised her with the knowledge that she can accomplish anything she sets her mind and heart to, and her first big goal she set was winning cheerleading Worlds,” she added.
All-Star Cheerleading is a sport in which a team will perform a 2:30 minute routine that includes tumbling, stunting, a pyramid section, and dance. Levels range from level one to six. Each team will go to various competitions throughout the year. The two biggest ones are the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) competition in Dallas, Texas, and Worlds in Orlando, Florida.
Cruise got started in the sport of cheer due to watching her cousin at competitions and practices.
“My cousin was a cheerleader, and I saw her and her team perform at the fair once. As soon as I saw all of the stunts and tumbling they were doing, I had to try it out,” Cruise recalled.
In 2011, Cruise made her way over to the California All Stars, a prolific cheer company throughout California.
“My cousin won Worlds with Cali junior coed in 2010. That year I cheered somewhere else and went to Worlds as well. I, as well as a few of my friends at the program, were ready for a change and to take our training to the next caliber,” Cruise said about her decision to join the California All Stars.
While at the California Allstars, Cruise joined Smoed. The level five team that would later be featured in a YouTube series on AwesomenessTV, called Cheerleaders.
While on Smoed, Cruise met Madison Corsello. The girls quickly became friends, and soon became known as the “Smoed Twins” due to their uncanny resemblance on stage at competitions.
“We were friends before the whole “twin” thing started, so it was fun to go through that phase together. We enjoyed being mirrors in the routine as well,” Cruise said.
While on Smoed, Cruise won two World championships in the level five small coed division, and after she left Smoed, the team won three more World championships.
“Winning Worlds 2012. That is a moment I’ll never forget. It was my personal first Worlds win and the team was young, fun, and hungry for that first-place spot. To finally achieve what we worked so hard together for was a dream come true,” Cruise reminisced about her most memorable moment.
Cruise eventually left Smoed in 2014 as her and her sister Jaiden moved to Kernersville, North Carolina, to join the Cheer Extreme Allstars (CEA).
“I miss getting to wear “Smoed” across my chest and back. It was an honor I didn’t take lightly. We were lucky enough to be trained by some of the best coaches in the industry and have some of the best fans ever cheering us on in the stands,” Cruise said about what she misses most about being on Smoed.
“Competing with the smamily definitely gives you an adrenaline high and it’s a special two minutes and thirty seconds every time you hit the mat,” she added.
While in Kernersville, Jenee, spent a year and two months with Cheer Extreme Senior Elite, which included trips to Worlds.
“I miss the practices. We worked hard, but still had a lot of fun. Courtney Pope, (a CEA head coach), always figured out a way to make full outs and stunt reps more interesting and we all would play along and enjoy every minute together,” Cruise said about what she misses about Cheer Extreme.
“I also miss the competitions with them because there’s nothing quite like performing to a roaring Senior Elite crowd,” she added.
In the 2017-18 season, Cruise’s sister Jaiden joined Smoed, which would then lead to Cruise returning to the California All Stars for the 2018-19 season, and joining their level six team, Reckless.
“Even when I was away, there was always a special place in my heart for Cali. When I decided to come back for one year, I was too old for Smoed, but Reckless was amazing and looked like a new, fun experience,” Cruise said about her decision to join Reckless.
Following Worlds 2019, Cruise quit the sport of cheerleading so that she could focus on her nursing program in college.
“The people, by far. Reckless 2019 I think may be my favorite team of all time. We went through some rough times together, but always had each other’s backs. We genuinely enjoyed being together, whether we were getting food after practice or doing bear crawls in the gym,” Cruise said about her most memorable moment while on Reckless.
Like many athletes, Cruise has faced many challenges and adversities. The biggest one has been Type 1 Diabetes.
“I had to make sure my blood sugar was stable at practice when I was exercising heavily and at competitions with high adrenaline. My teammates and coaches were always supportive though and checked to make sure I was okay,” Cruise said.
One other adversity Cruise has faced, has been that she was not in very good shape when she joined Reckless as opposed to her Smoed years, due to taking a break from cheer between Senior Elite and Reckless.
“I was older and bigger and had to learn how to tackle skills I used to be able to do in my sleep. It really made me appreciate the human body and all we’re capable of,” Cruise said.
Through the adversities she has faced, Cruise has been able to grow as an athlete and as a person on and off the mat.
“Since I started cheer over a decade ago, I’ve grown less shy and more confident. I’ve learned how to work with others and handle both success and disappointment. I owe personality and how I deal with everyday situations to cheerleading. It’s really shaped me into who I am,” Cruise said.
And due to her growth as a person through cheer, Cruise has learned to take pride in the fact that in order to be the best athlete you can be, you have to be motivated to work hard.
“I take pride in my work ethic. I never wanted to be the most talented athlete, but I did want to be the hardest working. I always wanted to do more. If I was struggling on a skill, I made sure to throw it more than I was asked,” Cruise said.
“If we weren’t assigned workouts outside of practice, I’d still go to the gym and get a workout in. In my mind, the better shape I was in and the more reps I did, the less likely I was to let my team down,” she added.
Cruise has also credited her sister Jaiden for helping her become a better athlete.
“She inspires me daily and has always been way more talented than me. Watching her grow and learn how to handle change and conflict both within and outside of the sport, has taught me so much,” Cruise said.
And in terms of her coaches, Cruise has had so many throughout her cheer career. Their various styles have inspired her to relish in the moments of cheer before her career is over.
“They’ve all had different coaching styles, which is super cool. They’ve taught me how to keep your head down and work to be a champion, but also how important it is to look up once in a while and enjoy the moments that will all too soon be over,” Cruise said.
Despite the fact that Cruise will be off to college for nursing, she hopes to one day coach cheer in order to stay involved in the sport that is close to her heart.
“After I become a nurse, I may decide to coach part time as well, it just depends what else I have going on at that point,” Cruise said.