Give Me A... Win!
By day, Ms Lim Biyi builds relationships with clients as the Assistant Vice President of Ground Handling Marketing at SATS, the chief ground-handling and in-flight catering service provider at Changi Airport. But by night, the 35-year-old trades in her pantsuits for a cheerleading kit, as coach of Alpha Verve, NUS’ varsity cheerleading team. “It’s a nice break from work, which can be mentally taxing,” she tells The AlumNUS with a smile. But as she adds, cheerleading can be physically demanding.
It’s a demand that Ms Lim is used to: after all, she has been cheerleading since her secondary school days. “At that time, cheerleading was gaining in popularity because of the movie Bring It On; and when we did some simple stunts during sports day, they were well-received. So when I entered NUS, I heard about Alpha Verve and decided to give it a try.” That decision led to many long nights of training and self-improvement, as the team was not professionally coached at the time. “We relied on web videos and trial-and-error,” recalls Ms Lim, whose husband is also an Alpha Verve alumnus. Thanks to their grit and determination, the team placed second in the all-girls group category at a nationwide competition in 2008.
Bringing Good Cheer
Because of her close involvement with the team, Ms Lim stayed on after graduation to help out. She also joined an external cheerleading team, while returning to Alpha Verve to share the valuable lessons she learnt. Then in 2014, she accepted a request from Alpha Verve’s team members to be their coach, after the previous coach retired. “I graciously accepted, knowing that I had more experience to share with the team.” Her husband was also offered a coaching position.
As a cheerleader:
“[When I represented] Singapore at a competition in Japan in 2013, where I stood in front of a crowd and performed a routine on behalf of my country … it was an unforgettable experience.”
As a coach:
“When Alpha Verve won the first-ever podium position in history during my first year as their coach. All the cheerleaders and alumni broke into tears of joy as we experienced a moment that we had waited 10 years for!”
Together, they brought Alpha Verve to new heights, including a win at the national championships in 2015. Ms Lim did this while juggling her career at SATS. Reflecting on how she balanced her full-time job and her cheerleading passion, she says, “I did give up opportunities at work to make time for cheerleading. It is natural that sacrifices were made along the way to achieve milestones like our national championship win. That’s why we always give our all during training to ensure that those sacrifices did not go to waste.”
She also counts the support of her husband and employer as factors for her team’s success. “My bosses are understanding and afforded me the flexibility to manage both responsibilities. My husband also covers training sessions for me when I have to work late,” says Ms Lim, who trains with the team about four to five times a week on average, and even more than that closer to competitions.
As much as she loves cheerleading, she stresses that it’s not all fun and games. The threat of injuries looms large over the sport. “Since I took over, we have put in place strict training guidelines, compulsory basic safety trainings and imposed penalties for incompliance to ensure a safe training environment for our cheerleaders,” she adds.