By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Earlier this summer, Ashley Meleski, a Level 5 All Star Cheerleader, along with her team, won the biggest cheer competition in the world. And for this athlete, who will be a sophomore at Westborough High School this fall that makes all of the hard work she has put into her training worth it.
The cheer competition, call Worlds, was held in Florida last month. According to her mother, Jessica, it is the “most prestigious, selective international cheerleading competition in the world.”
Ashley is a “flyer” for the East Celebrity Elite (ECE) in Tewksbury which is just as it sounds – she is one of the girls who “flies” during the routines. She just finished the season on M5 Bombshells and is now a Level 6 All Star Cheerleader.
All Star Cheerleading routines open with elite stunts, standing and running tumbling, jumps and dance. It is broken up by level and division. Levels are determined by age and the size of your team. When the teams travel to competitions, the girls are competing as a team against other teams around the nation. At times, they are performing in an arena of thousands of people. The team has to win a bid in order to compete in Worlds.
This past season Ashley’s team traveled to Louisville, Indianapolis, Providence, Atlantic City, Dallas, Nashville, and Orlando. The M5 Bombshells were undefeated, winning every competition until their sixth competition held in Nashville where they placed second.
Ashley started at the age of seven with AYF Cheer in Westborough and has never looked back. She now travels to Tewksbury several days each week for practices at ECE and often has additional dates to learn choreography. During the competition season, she is traveling five to six months out of the year.
“It felt amazing to win,” she said of winning Worlds.
Even though she admits that the sport is very time-consuming, she noted that she loves it and is very committed to her team, coaches and keeping herself conditioned. She has made many close friends along her journey and continues to relish in the bonds that she and her teammates have formed. She is also looking forward to winning more titles.
The team consists of 28 girls that range in age from 13-19 years old. Ashley noted that she thinks very highly of her coaches who include; Colleen O’Shea, Steve Belanger, Matt Smith and Casey Ballou, who is her tumbling coach.
“One thing that I don’t think people realize is that the commitment to this sport is year round. She has learned to multi-task by doing homework in the car and there have been many late nights spent studying for exams and writing papers,” said Jessica.
“I am so proud of Ashley and her teammates. When they are competing, I hold my breath but l live to see her fly and enjoy what she enjoys the most. It makes her dad, Scott, and I proud,” said Jessica Meleski.
“Cheerleading has taught me countless life lessons and skills throughout the years. I’ve learned how to persevere and push through even when you feel like giving up. I’ve also learned self-discipline, time-management, good sportsmanship, to always believe in yourself even when others don’t and it doesn’t matter who you are or how talented you are if you don’t work together as a team,” said Ashley.