Oilers Octane cheerleader team features Ponoka dancer

Ponoka’s Catriona Hunks

Ponoka’s Catriona Hunks

By ADAM JACKSON

After 17 years of hard work and competitions, Catriona Hunks has made it.

The 21-year-old dancer has recently been hired, along with 17 other women, to form the Edmonton Oilers Octane cheer team.

Hunks applied in October and went through a series of auditions, interviews and dance tryouts before finally being chosen to be a part of Oilers Octane.

“I was very excited and also a bit nervous because it’s the first time a Canadian NHL team has had cheerleaders and wasn’t really sure what to expect,” said Hunks.

This accomplishment for Hunks did not come easy though. She started dancing at the age of four at the Ponoka Dance Kompany, where she practiced and competed all through her childhood. During these years, she attended Mecca Glen School and Ponoka Composite High School.

Hunks, who works at the Centennial Centre as a psychiatric nurse’s aide, still lives in Ponoka and commutes to Edmonton for every Oilers home game. She puts in about six hours for every home game. She is required to arrive at Rexall Place three hours prior to the game to either shoot video, practice or do other activities.

The Oilers are the only Canadian NHL team to have cheerleaders and so far, the response has been good. The Oilers’ decision to create a cheerleading squad was inspired by American NHL teams. All of which, except for one, have cheerleaders.

“We want our fans to come to the game and be entertained from the minute they arrive to when they leave,” said Jessica McPhee, a spokesperson for the Octane. “This is just another thing to add to the overall Oilers experience.”

Hunks credits dance teachers Kristi-Lee Sikorski, Tania Strader and Anne-Alisa Wiancko for their guidance and training through her years of dance.