In sports, words like “Cinderella” or "Cinderella Story" are used in situations when competitors achieve far greater success than was expected. New England certainly has had its fair share of glass slippers and at WORLDS it was East Celebrity Elite C5's (aka “Bomb Squad,” of Tewksbury, Massachusetts) turn at the ball: They are now your 2015 Medium Co-Ed World Champions.
Right away, I saw tweets reading “ECE Who?” “C5 What?” People don’t know who ECE is let alone C5 and how on earth did they just win WORLDS???
As a CheerMAD from a gym in Massachusetts who competes against its teams, I can tell you a few things about East Celebrity Elite. As much as it might seem as an "overnight success" story, ECE has been in the industry for a long time. The first Allstar gym in the state was East Elite, owned by Linda Bernis and Cheryl Pasinato. When EE merged with Celebrity, owned by Cassie Bienvenue and Colleen O’Shea, the new Allstar entity became East Celebrity Elite or ECE.
Over time, the gym gradually put its name on the map. ECE teams have consistently been NCA title winners, back-to-back Future 5 Champions and hold many regional titles. But the Worlds Globe has always been elusive.
Until Monday night. And now everyone wants to know about this Cinderella story: “Who is East Celebrity Elite?”
Let’s face it. We don’t have kids begging their parents to move to the NorthEast so that they can play in the 10 feet of snow we had this past year. Talent here is homegrown. The kids that make up ECE are born and raised here. The level 5 athletes that make up the gym are kids that all started on a level 1 team and they all remember where they came from. Starting with a cartwheel and working their way up to full team standing full’s.
Any good Cinderella story comes with its set of challenges though, right? ECE C5’s is no different. Last year, the team suffered two tremendous blows: the death of teammate, Markell Torres; and Coach Jeff Frankland’s young daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor that would later be found malignant. And the entire cheer industry supported ECE's LYMI campaign, honoring Coach AJ (Amy Jones) (and written about several times here) when she was diagnosed with cancer. Also its dance director, Coach AJ 's Sr. Hip Hop team Envy won 2010 and 2011 back-to-back World Championships.
Last year about this time, three amazing coaches: Colleen O’Shea, Steve Belanger and Jeff Frankland took to the mat to create a team of 33 (including alternates). In a deep division starting with 28 teams, C5 had its work cut out for them.
“People always count us out,” Coach Jeff said. “Finally we feel like we’ve been working on the little things to create a bigger picture.”
This year, C5 would finish at NCA in second place. Respectable but people don’t remember who came in second. They would head to the Champions League and make it on the big screen: finishing in ninth behind big names like Cali Black Ops, Cheer Extreme Coed Elite, Cali SMOED. Ninth place leaves you with EC…WHO???
At Worlds, C5 worked its way through Day 1 and finished eighth. Nobody complains. You make it to the Top 10 at Worlds and are thrilled.
Back at the gym in Massachusetts, tucked away in a warehouse on a side street, ECE’s younger kids gathered around the live feed to watch the finals. To watch C5 hit a ZERO deduction routine. A routine created specifically for them by Ray Jasper and Wes Haley. With music created specifically for them by Thomas JR Locklayer and out of the box voiceovers from Dem Franchize Boyz. ECE C5 was ready to drop some bombs!!
Well, tick….tick….tick……BOOM!!!! That zero deduction routine everyone was hoping for, everyone knew they had in them….it ARRIVED and everyone waited.