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National Cheer & Dance Championship Blog

For this year's event, we will give highlights of the days competition, warm your heart with human interest stories from across the country, and give you a performers perspective of the National Experience. Check back often for frequent updates every day!

Cheer & Dance Blog

EASTERN REGION SPOTLIGHT: Friday

Eastern Region’s highlight team for day-Dexter Lions!  Head Coach Ericka and her assistants Janelle, Lyndsey, Taylor have been coaching together for the past three years. Family is what united them.   The team has 25 cheerleaders that some have cheered together for the past seven years. They are from four different schools within the district and have submitted  four All American Little Scholar Applications.  
These Lions were busy fundraising after their Regional competition. In three days they raised over 15,000 to pay for their long journey from New York to Orlando. To help with those efforts the coaches cooked over 600 spaghetti dinners-that includes 800 meatballs and 40 lbs of sausage. 
Family is  the key component of this team’s success. They traveled down with members of their extended cheer family. Together with those that live local they had over 100 in the stands.  They are more than just a team-they are a family!


WESCON REGION SPOTLIGHT:
Friday
Sister cheer squads from Kailua on the Island of Oahu are the focus of the Wescon Region Spotlight for Friday.  The Kailua Jr PeeWee Mustangs, coached by Head Coach Ashley and Assistants Sharene and Irae have been to the big show as a Tiny Mite squads two years ago.  They are so excited to be back as a competitive team for the first time!  The JPW Mustangs had many fundraisers to help get the team halfway around the globe!  From candy sales to meals at games and practices, the team was up to the challenge.  The ladies of the Mustangs cannot decide what is their favorite part of their routine - it was pretty evenly divided between the stunting, tumbling and dance.  You can hear the squad reciting their motto...Yessah Blessah, No stressah!!
The PeeWee Mustangs are lead by Head Coach Sherrie Assistant Ilila and Jr Coach McKena.  The squad has been together for four years but this is the team's first trip to Nationals.  The squad was challenged with having to change the routine at the last minute because two of their teammates couldn't make the trip.  Along with their sisters on the the Jr PeeWee team, the squad did quite a few different fundraisers - Krispy Kreme donuts at the games, chocolate bars, and concession every game day - just to name a few.  The PeeWee Mustangs like to spend time bond building.  They go swimming, play games and even made Minnie ears for the trip!
Kailua Mustang ohana has a special bond because there are more cheer squads than football teams.  All the squads take pride in the support for each other at games and other Kailua Pop Warner functions. So much so that the football team is here to support them both as they perform back to back in the order of performance!


SOUTHEAST REGION SPOTLIGHT:
Friday

Teamwork makes the dream work! The New Tampa Tigers Junior Pee Wee team is attending the Pop Warner National Cheer and Dance Competition for the first time and were ready to hit the floor.  The team received parental and community support which made the girls want to work even harder during their performance as a “Thank You”.  The Tigers understand the meaning of teamwork.  The team consists of two special needs girls who never feel anything else but included in the group.  This behavior makes the girls feel amazing just like a second family.  Coach Sherae is extremely proud of the team as well as Coach Marlena who is also the association president.  Volunteering is rewarding but when you are working with such a committed and devoted group of young ladies it just makes it even more gratifying!


SOUTHEAST REGION SPOTLIGHT: Thursday

Go Big or Go Home!The Wildwood Wildcats Junior Varsity Hip Hop Dance team decided to go big!  Coach Cristy and coach Crissy have eleven of the most energetic and charismatic group of young ladies you ever want to me.  The Wildcats are a duel team competing in cheer and hip hop for their first time at Nationals.  The has a fun group of 6th through 9th grade girls who want to remain in Pop Warner instead of moving to other cheer organizations in their community.  Before preforming instead of the coach leading the inspirational speech and prayer, the girls asked to that person.  The person who talks about how thankful they are to be here, how blessed they are to be a group as well as a family and how they plan to go big once on the performance floor.  Well, that is exactly what this team.  Coach Crissy could not be prouder of these girls then she was when the performance ended.  All hugs, smiles and praise. 


MID SOUTH REGION SPOTLIGHT: Friday
The Harrisburg Cowboys have NEVER had a team compete at the National Level, so these young ladies are Pioneers for their Region. This group of adorable young ladies are extremely proud to be representing their Town, and hope to place with a Win this week. Just an opportunity to compete at this level has been a dream come true. Being a Town Municipal Association, this Team was lucky that the Town has supported their trip wholeheartedly, with donations and sponsorships. They were also able to have a few small fundraisers.
This team has enjoyed going to all of the Parks so far, and each member seems to have a different favorite. They have spent this week doing Team Bonding and are hoping to have a Team Christmas party as well. This Team originally started at a number of 12, with some challenges bringing the Team size down to 8 competing today. They have lost athletes at the Regional Level, and one of the current Athletes ended up breaking her arm right after the Regional Competition. They have powered through however to succeed this far. 
Each athlete has a part of the routine that they like the best, but in particular, they all love the double toe touch.

The Garner Trojans have been to Nationals as a Team 4 times at various levels. This year all but one member from last year's team came back with adding 7 more athletes that were brand new.
For Fundraising efforts this team involved their Community Small Businesses with shopping days, with both organizations benefiting. They also sold Gourmet Candied Apples, and created sponsorship shirts for sale as well.
This Team has enjoyed the week here at Disney bonding while they take to the Parks for fun. They all enjoyed going to the Pop Warner night at Animal Kingdom.
In addition to loving the dance portion of their routine, they also love their stunting. They have a blast doing inversions which they did not do last year, along with the twist ups. 


EASTERN REGION SPOTLIGHT: Friday

Tonight’s Eastern Region highlight team of the night-the Keansburg Cheer Alliance.  Coaching staff includes Head Coach Joyce and Assistant Coaches Maria, Jodi, and Thea. They have 29 girls on this squad. Six of them have been selected as All American Little Scholars. All but one have been cheering since the flag age division.  This squad may have cheered for quite some time together, but they are brand new to Pop Warner.  As a matter of fact, they had to fundraise this year to start up their program in addition to funds needed to come to Nationals. Money raised from paint and sips, spaghetti dinners, good old fashioned can drives and local sponsors enabled the new organization to purchase their mats and equipment needed for the season. 
The team spirit among each other was truly uplifting. The girls cheer each other on when practicing their tumble passes. The belief and support of one another during the builds can be heard across the practice mat. This squad embraces teamwork and that does make the dream work. These Lady Legends are one amazing team!


NEW ENGLAND REGION SPOTLIGHT: Friday
The Dracut Middies are a fixture here at the Pop Warner National Cheer and Dance Championship. The Middies always represent The New England Region well. This Junior Pee Wee team of seventeen is here for the first time. The team consists of a mix of new cheerleaders and returning Mitey Mites. As they prepare to take the mat, they are guided by group of seasoned coaches who know how to keep the nerves in check. They check uniforms and bows and know what to say to keep the girls focused.  These athletes are ready. 
Once the team earned their spot at nationals, they put their efforts into fundraising to offset the cost. They sold wreathes and mums to raise the needed funds. Now that they are here, they have enjoyed going to the parks. They spent the day at Animal Kingdom as a team. The safari was a team favorite. Today they take the mat in the hopes of starting a new tradition for this young team. Good luck ladies!  


EASTERN REGION SPOTLIGHT:
Thursday

Eastern Region highlight team for the day-Hillside Jr. Comets Varsity Hip Hop. Coaching staff, otherwise known as the Fab Five, includes Head Coach Rayba, and Assistant Coaches Alexius, Tyease, Shereedah, and Summer. They have 12 dancers that have always brought the following personalities to the floor:  Funny, Grumpy, Tired, Sleepy, Angry, Confused, Questionable, Annoying, Crazy, Special, OCD, and Happy. The team fundraised by bagging at Shop Rite and selling blankets when their High School took the state championship. This team has very busy schedules- not only do they dance for Pop Warner, they are  high school cheerleaders, game trainers, and hold down part time jobs. Yet they are still able to maintain their grades and two are All American Scholars. With the guidance of the coaches, the team choreographed the dance to the music. The coaches placed all the bling on the jackets to bring it all together.  Both coaches and athletes stated the attitudes of the team can really make or break routine.  As the coaches prepare the team for mat, she tells them they have just one time. “We got here, show them and represent. Let make this loud and clear-Jersey’s here.


JR. REPORTER: ELLE O'CONNOR

About Me:               
I have been competing for nine years as a Winchester Sachem, and I have grown as a teammate, student, and person because of all of my coaches, family, and peers. Cheerleading has enhanced my balance, credence, time management skills, flexibility, and strength. This sport has allowed me to flourish and blossom into a person who is able to stunt, tumble, and jump. This year was my seventh time going to Nationals for Pop Warner, and I am beyond grateful to have had the opportunity to do so. From the times when I was a Mighty Might and exhibiting to competing as an A Team, my team and I have experienced our losses together, and we have celebrated our victories as a unit. As this season is coming to a close, I will be graduating from Winchester Pop Warner Cheerleading, which I will always remember for its support in everything I do. This sport has recognized me in the classroom, on the sidelines, as well as on the competition mat. Leaving this program has filled me with sorrow, however, I am eternally thankful to have been able to be a cheerleader in this organization. I have had numerous coaches who have always pushed me beyond my limits because in cheerleading, there are no restrictions to what you can achieve. Pop Warner has taught me that accomplishments don’t happen overnight, and a National title isn’t in your hands with the wave of a magical wand. Instead, it takes hard work and determination and drive are necessary in every event I will participate in.

Winchester Sachems:

Practicing three days a week since the beginning of August, the Winchester Sachems have made the difficult change from being level one to level two, however, they continue to leave people in awe with their performance. They plan to amaze everyone with their phenomenal facials and their sass that will leave everyone wanting to continue watching them. This stellar group of girls that are ages ranging from nine to twelve will grab everyone’s attention with their exceptional dance and breathtaking stunts. This medium level two Pee Wee team, has become reigning champs when they received first place at regionals, allowing them to persist to National. They will be competing against eighteen other teams. Some of these girls have been fortunate enough to know what it will be like to compete at Pop Warner Nationals because it will be their second time competing there. A large portion of this team have been cheerleading for seven years, while others began this sport this year. While they are in Disney World, these girls hope to get a National title in their hands, however, going on rides like Splash Mountain and Pandora are also on their list of things to check off. Some of these cheerleaders have already been to Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom, and did so when they arrived in Florida after flying all the way from Massachusetts. As this season is coming to a close, these cheerleaders explain how they are going to miss each other beyond words that can explain, and they are looking forward to reuniting with them on August 1st of next year.

Southwest Colts: 
Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are some of the most favored parks to go to, and for the Southwest Colt, they can’t wait to go there. Most of the girls on the team are going to rush into the line for Tower of Terror when they get to Hollywood Studios. Going to parks is one of the best things to do in Florida, but for these dancers, they also have their eye on the first place trophy for Varsity Theme dance. They are most excited for showing their powerful ending that will leave everyone in awe over their talent. This team has already received first place and hope to be rewarded with this honor once again at Nationals. Their amazing and difficult beginning will leave everyone wanting to see their kick-turn again. They have competed at other competitions in order to arrive at Nationals. They competed against seven teams to get here, and they will be competing against more for this competition. Some of these dancers have already been to Nationals before to compete at earlier competitions and can’t wait to show their routine to their audience. As this season is ending, this group of dancers are going to miss their friends and coaches with whom they have developed unbreakable bonds with. These dancers that are ages thirteen through sixteen are looking forward to competing and showing their incredible abilities to the judges, their family, and to all of the teams that they are competing against.

Fort Osage Indians:   
Flying down all the way from Missouri, this small Pee Wee level two team, known as the Fort Osage Indians, are looking forward to showing the judges how clean they are and the fabulous facial expressions that they have. Their stunts and tumbling remain as their favorite part of the routine, and they are excited to show their audience how amazing their routine is. They competed against four teams in Chicago in order to arrive in Florida, where they will be competing against ten teams. For some of these cheerleaders, it is their third time going to Nationals, and most of them have been cheering for six years. These girls who are the ages of nine to twelve are thrilled to have the opportunity to return home with a National title. As excited as they to have the chance to receive a first place trophy, they are also looking forward to attending Magic Kingdom and Epcot as a team. There, they hope to go on the new Pandora ride. At other parks like Hollywood Studios and Epcot, they can’t wait to go on the rides known as Tower of Terror and also Mt. Everest. This team are a group of cheerleaders who are excited to go to their other sports such as gymnastics, basketball, and soccer, however, they are also going to miss being a powerful team together, as this season as brought them lots of success.


MID SOUTH REGION SPOTLIGHT:
Thursday
The Panthers are a dual Team competing in both Cheer and Dance, with their Dance routine bringing them to Nationals this week in Disney. This is their third year to reach this level under the guidance of their current Head Coach. Luckily, the Panthers were able to secure a sponsor to assist in getting the funding needed for travel, in addition to Raffle Basket and Breakfast fundraisers. The team had a tough break this year with the major Hurricane that caused a lot of destruction in their area. This left the team unable yo practice for 2 weeks, and then have to practice under harsh conditions in the outside elements.They had a lot of catching up to do, but worked extra hard to make it this far.  When asked what the best part of their experience so far was, they told me that they have immensely enjoyed the Team Bonding that they have been able to do this week. 

The Roger Bacon Academy is one of those teams that comes from an exceptional program. Every year for the past 13 years, the Varsity Team has attended Nationals here at Disney. The Staff prides themselves on developing an Elite  level program to remain one of the top competitors in the USA. Fundraising has been select as efforts have been put forth to get these athletes to Nationals. The main fundraising sources have been Cookie dough and Lottery Raffle fundraisers.
This year the team has had some challenges with injuries, and the loss of athletes for various reasons. Luckily they have been able to make up the differences to advance. This team has enjoyed going to the Parks here at Disney, but they also have enjoyed the Team Bonding that they have been doing while they are traveling. The best part of their experience has been their own Christmas Party that the Coaching Staff put together.



WESCON REGION SPOTLIGHT
: Thursday
The Chino Lady Colts Jr Varsity team is from the Mt. Baldy Conference.  The team is lead by Head Coach Chandra and Assistant Coaches Veronica and Lynette.  The Lady Colts have attended Nationals for the past four years and the second year as a dance team.  The cheerleaders say that they love competing in the Theme Dance division because they have fun coming up with their theme and learn something new. The Lady Colts had many different fundraisers to help get them here. The most unique one of is setting up Easter Egg Hunts for families in their community.  Parents donate to the team and the girls and coaches go to their homes and hide eggs for the children to hunt!  The team has not been without it's challenges.  The coaches have worked hard to make sure that every teammate feels included, especially with the wide range of ages of the girls.  Coach Chandra promotes respect for each other and encourages them to appreciate each other for what they contribute to the team.  After competition the team plans to spend time at Hollywood Studios, Epcot Center and end with a shopping spree at Downtown Disney.  "One team, one dream" the team's motto is prevalent throughout my time with them.  The team is definitely focused on the dream!  


NEW ENGLAND SPOTLIGHT:
Thursday
The New Britain Raiders Coed Varsity level 4 team, from Connecticut, is always a New England Region crowd favorite. This team of 16 cheerleaders, including 3 boys, has earned a spot at The Pop Warner National Cheer and Dance Championship for the past five years. This year they brought all four of their competitive teams to Orlando, that’s 70 cheerleaders! 
The driving force behind all this success is Coach Justin Mitchell. He’s been at it for about 13 years. The driving force behind Justin is his mother, Maria Mitchell. She’s been at it for somewhere around 30 years. No one is sure and neither one could be asked because they were both busy with two of their teams warming up  simultaneously.
The New Britain Raider PALs (Police Athletics League) are part of a larger non profit program that serve the children of New Britain. They spend a lot of time fundraising for their yearly program expenses. This year they had to step up their efforts. The key to their success were their corporate sponsors. They are very grateful for their help in getting all of their athletes to Orlando. Once here, all The Raiders enjoy Animal Kingdom during the day but at night it’s all about The Magic Kingdom. Who can blame them? All of their fans look forward to the magic they bring to mat! Best of luck New Britain!

The New England Region Edgewood Eagles Varsity cheerleaders have a lot to be proud of. They qualified to attend the Pop Warner National Cheer and Dance Competition in Orlando. It’s not the first time and hopefully won’t be the last. This team of 22 has been together since they were Junior Pee Wees. There is a closeness and support that you can feel. They are like sisters. They have one more season together and plan to make the most of it. To make the trip possible this year, the team put a lot of effort into fundraising. They sold popcorn, cookie dough and calendars. Sponsor T-shirts were a big help and they are thankful for the community support. 
Its a quick trip for this team but they were able to find the time to attend the Pop Warner night and Disney’s Animal Kingdom before they head back to Rhode Island. Fly Eagles, fly


WESCON REGION SPOTLIGHT:
Wednesday
The San Carlos Varsity Lady Patriots us under the direction of head coach Kari Rice.  Kari is not only the head coach of this varsity team but is also the ACDC of their Association.  Kari has been with this San Carlos Association since 2009.  She was a head coach & ACDC until 2015 when her daughter aged out of Pop Warner.  Kari was excited to move onto other aspects of her life.  In 2017 the President of San Carlos Treshawn Johnson asked Rice to come back to the Association.  The San Carlos Patriots have attended the National cheer Championships 3 times.  The team did several fundraisers to make it across country to this competition. A Spa day for the parents, dinners at local restaurants in SD, butter braid bread and asking for donations from local businesses.  The challenges that this team has over come was the last minute changes of participants not able to make it to this competition.  The team traveled with 12 out of 20 girls.  The teams best moments so far was walking into the All Star resort here at Walt Disney World and receiving the red carpet treatment.  The girls loved this full Disney experience.  The teams motto: We are all a family! Coach Kari looks forward to the years to come with this San Carlos Association.  She wants to build this program to be the best of the best. Her goal is to get all of her teams to this National Championship Comp!!!  
Best of luck Lady Patriots!

ENTERTAINMENT TEAM: Theses ladies are keep you entertained between those amazing team performances! The Dad's toe touch sponsored by Dick's, the Dance Off sponsored by Pastry and so much more.

My name is Simone Sutton and  I have been a part of Pop Warner for over 15 years.  I have coached cheer and Dance both over those years.  The last 6 years I was the head coach for Varsity dance team.  My girls placed 2nd last year(Hip Hop) at National and 1st place(Theme) in 2016.I have been working with Pop Warner Nation Team for 4 years on the promotional side.  I have a 31 year old daughter and a 29 year old old son.  I have a grand daughter that cheers on a Pop Warner Team and competed on Monday.  Her team did an awesome job and placed 6th at Nationals this year. 
My name is Pat Martel and I have been involved with Pop Warner for over 20 years.  When my daughter asked me to join Pop Warner as a cheerleader, I had no idea that my life would be forever changed.  That first year I just sat back and watched the magic happen.  The next year I was asked to be the Team Mom.  I slowly moved up to Asst Coach, Head Coach, Association Coordinator, League Coordinator and am now the Asst Treasurer for the New England Region.  I have made friendships for life, with moms, coaches and athletes.  I love my Pop Warner Family!


SOUTHEAST REGION SPOTLIGHT:
Wednesday
The Hagerty Huskies Junior Pee Wee Performance Cheer Team is Loud and Proud.  Combined with girls who moved up from Mitey Mite and new participants the team is ready to take advantage of their first time at Nationals.  The coaches of this team including the junior coach said the team was fun to work with spunky personalities included.  The commitment and enthusiasm of the team can be attributed to the head coach.  Coach Megan is a nurse working twelve hour shifts as well as being a mother of four.  “There is no way I could make it happen without my association family”, said Coach Megan.  Community support and teamwork are key parts and admirable attributes of the Hagerty Huskies.  The testament of passion and dedication shows this team is developing skills that will last them a lifetime.

Can they work it…. Yes, they can!


The Forestview Tigers JPW Hip Hop dance team did exactly that.   The team’s coaches took a chance moving this group of young ladies from Mitey Mite to Junior Pee Wee because of their enthusiasm and motivation to be the best.  They are small but mighty with only six girls, but they perform as a cohesive group with a lot of positive attitude. This behavior allows the girls to bring the best out of each other.  The team is ready for the adrenaline rush for performing at Nationals for the 1st time.  The team’s coaches want the team not only to leave a lasting impression on the judges but build a lasting connection.



EASTERN REGION SPOTLIGHT:
Wednesday

Today’s highlight team of the day is the Rochester Rams Pewee hip hop dance team. This is was their 1st year performing a hip hop routine. Last year they took 2nd in Pom and Theme and this year’s goal is to come home with the W! Under the direction of Head Coach Britany, with assistants Shawntia, Morghan, Laron, Neysha,  and coordinator DeeDee,  this dream team coaching staff have made an amazing transition with these girls. There are 17 beautiful young ladies on the team, ranging in ages of 10 & 11. Seven of these young ladies will be moving onto Varsity next year, so this is their last year cheering with this level. It was a long bus ride from Rochester, NY and to fund the trip they raised money by selling popcorn, cheesecakes and Katydids. The biggest seller were the katydids.  The costumes were designed based on theme, “Dripping Rain” and budget. One of the biggest challenges this team overcame was team bonding. To solve this issue the coaches had sleep overs and  get together throughout the season and parties after large events. As they are preparing to perform they dedicate the routine to their coaches and said a prayer. When they walk out onto the mat, their fans go crazy. The support throughout that organization is amazing. Congratulations to the Rochester Hip Hop PeeWee- National Champions!

Eastern Region’s highlighted team of the day is Marsh Creak Eagles.   This is the first time ever in the 20 years of the organization’s existence a cheer team has won a bid to National competition. Head Coach Kelly and her Assistant Coaches  Roseann &Vanessa along with their 25 sweet little “nuggets.”  One of the athlete’s are unable to compete because of a broken ankle received mid season during an ice skating event, yet still made it down. The team fundraised their way to Disney via Go Fund Me accounts, local sponsors, and the local VW. They are still doing fundraising to get to Globals in Atlantic City. This team was special from the start.  The secret to their success was the bonding the team did on its on own-they cared for each other. But to help with that the team held a nerd party, had a pj practice, and hosted crazy hair and crazy sock days. The key was to have fun. Right before performing their last routine of the year the coach asked them to shine bright, be loud and give it their all. Coach further told them they will forever support the team and be in their corner for years to come.   She asked them to promise to have fun. In return the cheer leaders responded they were coming back to cheer for MCE and not their middle school. This squad sure does know how to make their coaches proud!  


NEW ENGLAND SPOTLIGHT:
Wednesday
The Manchester Eagles Challanger team has been planning their trip to The Pop Warner National Cheer and Dance Championship for some time. They are from Manchester New Hampshire, in the New England Region where they always steal the show when they perform! They are a small but mighty group of athletes. 
The Manchester Eagle Varsity Cheer team is by their side every step of the way. This group of dedicated cheerleaders helps the challenger team in every aspect of preparation for the big day. They help make sure bows are straight and nerves are in check, then go out on the mat to ensure these athletes don’t miss a beat. It’s only fitting that the varsity team has their own routine to perform later today. It’s a great day to be an Eagle! 
It’s been a long and busy week for the Eagles. A big part of the excitement for this team has been to go to the parks and meet the characters. Winnie The Pooh is very popular with this group. Today they are excited to get out on the mat and show everyone what they can do. They will leave Orlando with some great memories and knowing that they rocked the house! Go Eagles!

The South County Rams have spent the last few months practicing and preparing two routines in the hopes of performing both at The Pop Warner National Cheer and Dance Championship In Orlando. This team traveled from The New England Region to represent their Central Massachusetts League. Their preparation and planning has paid off!
These cheerleaders have had a busy week. They performed their show routine earlier in the week and today will perform their sideline routine. They look forward to some down time in the parks. Hollywood Studios has proven to be the favorite park. It’s a great way to close out a busy season. They weren’t too busy to notice a cheerleader from another team who’s nerves were getting the best of her during warm ups. Watching them take the time to help her out and make her laugh was a great reminder of what this is all about. 


SOUTHWEST REGION SPOTLIGHT
: Wednesday

We are the San Antoinio Wolverines! This team has advanced to the national championships in both Dance and Cheer and will be performing their cheer routine on Friday.  We truly believe "You got to want it to win it. And we WANT IT!"  This team has had to work very hard to be here.  As a new team, and very new to dance, they have had many hard practices. Qualifying for the national event after placing first at both the league and region level, they are ready for the next step. But that wasn't easy either. Much fundraising was needed to get here, such as selling Food Plates, Water Bottles, Raffle Tickets, etc. We have been to Hollywood studios, and animal kingdom.  Tonight we are going to the Pop warner party, and we are getting "mickey bars"...We love our coaches and if it was not for them, we would not be at Disney this week.  We want to say "thank you coaches"


MID SOUTH REGION SPOTLIGHT: Wednesday
The Sanford Sting is a POM team from the Mid South Region. Their organization has not had a team qualify for the last 13 years, so they are quite excited to have the opportunity to compete today. These girls start their annual fundraising in the Spring and one of the most memorable is an Easter Egg "Flock" type fundraiser, similar to the Flamingo Flock fundraisers that you see decorating lawns. They have sold apparel, run every game day concession, and sold chocolate just to name a few of their fundraisers in order to travel to Florida. When asked, the girls told me that the first thing that they want to do while here is win their Division. After winning, they plan on park hopping and attending the Pop Warner party at Animal Kingdom. They were happy to be able to watch their PW1 Team compete the other day.Good Luck Stanford!

The Wilmington Eagles have made this trip to Nationals for the 3rd time as a team. They have competed both as a Performance and Sideline Team, but are hoping to  win today with this routine.
The fundraising efforts to get to Nationals has been vast. The team has had multiple sponsor dinners, bake sales, and a ton of canning at local venues  towards the end of their season.The girls are excited for the Pop Warner Night at Animal Kingdom, and cannot wait until they experience the other parks that Disney has to offer.When asked about their most favorite memories so far, they all agreed that they have been enjoying meeting other cheerleaders from around the US, along with being recognized when out in Public.This team has been able to push through the loss of one of their Athletes, along with a coach, to still be able to make it this far. This has brought the team closer together as a whole.  
The 2018 Hurricane Season has been especially hard for our Wilmington Eagles. Hurricane Florence in September, left a lot of destruction, leaving our girls without homes to live in, practice space, and also some athletes and coaches that were displaced due to the devastation. Since the team typically practiced outside, and there was nothing but wreckage in their town, with no outside space untouched by the storm, they were forced to reach out to the Community who stepped up to provide them with space to continue their Season.
With the loss of Team Members, the routine has had some setbacks, but overall, with the due diligence of the coaching staff, and determination of the athletes, these girls have mastered their routine to be able to qualify for National Competition. We wish you the best of luck Wilmington!

More Than Just An Education For Exchange Student
The state champion Barrington Eagles Varsity cheer team from the New England Region have had a great season. The small organization from Rhode Island went on the the New England Region cheer competition to become the regional champions, qualifying them to attend the National Pop Warner Cheer and Dance Championship in Orlando Florida. As the team worked their magic, it included an exchange student from Galicia Spain. Isabel Vazquez traveled to America in August to spend her sophomore year in Barrington Rhode Island with a host family. Although her host’s children have aged out of Pop Warner, they felt it would be a great way for Isabel to make some friends and learn more about what American teenagers do and are like. Is there anything more American than cheerleading and football?
There is no cheerleading in Spain. There are no organized high school sports at her school. Students go to school from 9:30 to 5:30. Luckily, Isabel has a friend who was an exchange student in Barrington 2 years ago. She cheered at the high school level and loved it. Isabel was excited and curious. She was barely off the plane when she was brought to sign up for Pop Warner and become a Barrington Eagle. 
Her first day of practice was difficult. She knew nothing about jumps, tumbling, stunting or motions. It was hard and unlike anything she had ever done. She was discouraged and considered giving up. She was encouraged to give it another try. She is thankful that she did! She loves the sport and loves putting in the work that it takes to be an athlete. Isabel has friends for life and has shared an experience that most youth athletes have never been lucky enough to enjoy. She will go back to Galicia in June with a once in a lifetime memory. 
Isabel is accustomed to a more moderate climate. Her trip to Orlando has given her a break from the cold New England air. She loves Orlando. When asked how she likes Walt Disney World, the first words out of her mouth were “crazy fun”. You can feel her excitement. The excitement became more palpable when the team placed second in the nation. It’s overwhelming for any young athlete to be named with the best of the best. For Isabel, it’s a dream, a dream that she didn’t know she had, a dream that came true. 




PACIFIC NORTHWEST REGION SPOTLIGHT: Tuesday
The South Valley Grizzlies have heard First Place quite a bit this year...First Place at Conference, First Place at Regionals and First Place at Battle of the leagues.  If first place was not enough, they decided to also have the highest scores of the day at each event.  When asked what is your next goal, a unanimous response of  "of course, First place at nationals".  A team of 14 tumblers is definitely to their advantage. What are they looking forward to after competing today? The Pop Warner Party at Animal Kingdom is top on their list. This team is lucky to have some very strong junior coaches that are now supporting their younger sisters, making this team a close knit family. They aren't ruling out Globals in their near future! Good Luck Grizzlies!


EASTERN REGION SPOTLIGHT
: Tuesday
Today I had the honor and privilege to highlight The Brick City Lions Junior PeeWee, Head Coach Lisa, Assistant Coach Dayana along with their Cheer Director Jacinta.  Together they coach a lovely group of 18 girls varying in ages from 8-11.  The girls are from the city of Newark and practice in various school gyms in the city.Everything about this team is new. They are in the rebuilding stages of the cheer program. The girls are new to cheer, the coaches are new to the program, and Disney was a new experience for the girls. Not only did they have to fundraise for their trip to Nationals, but their first major expense of the year was the purchase of mats. This was done by many can drives, booster sheets and the selling of lots of popcorn and katydids. This was important because none of the 18 girls had any tumbling skills and coaches had set some high goals to achieve. They truly believed in these 18 girls.  As they prepare to hit the mat, they tell the girls “they are here to take first- but in the end it’s about working hard, because when you work hard this is what you get.”  As we neared the performance floor the coaches reminded them to have fun and look good while having fun. Coach said, we are here now, we made it, now let’s show them our pretty faces! Go get them Brick City Lions!

MID AMERICA REGION SPOTLIGHT: Tuesday
Portage Indians are in the Disney House. Staying at the Coronado Springs Resort, the team is having so much fun. As a team performing at the national event in Show Cheer and Dance, they are a busy team.  Their motto..."the one, they only, Big Red" Qualifying in first place at their league championship and second at the regional, they have a goal for top 5 here at Disney. They are not just team mates, but friends as well. "We spend a lot of time together doing things....such as tag days,stunting, tumbling and dancing. The girls would like to thank Disney and Pop Warner for allowing them to have so much fun! We are excited we see you perform two days in a row Portage Indians. 


SOUTHEAST REGION SPOTLIGHT: Tuesday
Cougars on 3!!!  The Clewiston Cougars Junior Varsity team is an example of continuing the Pop Warner traditions through generations.  This team in lead by coach Megan who is also the Association Cheer and Dance Coordinator (ACDC).  She has three additional coaches and a team parent who has previous experience at Nationals.  This year is very special to the team as well as the team parent.  Lyndsey was on the Cougars team twenty years ago when the team placed 3rd.  She returns with her daughter’s team for their first time here at Nationals.  These girls and junior coach have been together for 4 years.  The cougars have tremendous community support and were able to raise the funds to attend the National competition. The girls work, act and function like sisters which make the team one big happy family.  As if the inspirational prayer was not enough before performance during the final line up, every girl received a hug from the coach.  The Clewiston Cougars Junior Varsity are a prime example of how great the Pop Warner brand is from generation to generation.

1st for Everything! The St. Augustine Saints Pee Wee team has a reason to be proud.  This is the team’s first time at Nationals.  The team has been cheering together since the Mitey Mite division.  Taking the comments received during the local competition and turning it into a first-place trophy at the Regional Cheer and Dance competition with a bid to Nationals says something about the motivation and dedication of the team.  They are grateful to have this opportunity to participate in such a wonderful event.  The Saints have three enthusiastic, devoted and committed coaches.  Loving what you do is how you stay relevant when coaching cheer.  Head coach Ashley shared her All-Star experience with this spirited group of young ladies with an array of remarkable personalities.  With an increase amount of parental support, the Saints will continue to grow and make Pop Warner a household name throughout their community.


SOUTHWEST  REGION SPOTLIGHT
: Tuesday
For the love of cheerleading!  When you take the time to think about why we do what we as well as what gives us the drive in cheerleading you think of the perfect group of kids to coach.  Well, the Colorado Springs Wardogs Junior Pee Wee team are as close as you can get.  The confidence and energy of these young ladies makes coach Sarah’s job that much easier.  This team works well together from one division to the next while being excepting of all new comers. “They are willing to take on anything that’s thrown at them”, said coach Sarah.  They are eager to learn and absorb as much as they can during practice hoping it will never end.  The girls move together as one and love the adrenaline rush of competing. The also conducting fundraising activities with their junior varsity who will be performing here at Nationals. It takes a special person with the love of people to work with kids with special needs, but when you find that same behavior is kids their age its remarkable.  “They girls teach my daughter the cheers and how to hold the pom poms which makes her feel like she is a part of the team”, said coach Sarah.  Who could ask for a better team? Way to go Colorado Springs Wardogs Junior Pee Wee cheer team!


MID SOUTH REGION SPOTLIGHT: Tuesday Afternoon
For the Central High Trojans this is quite the experience, This is their first time ever advancing to the national championships, and while they know they have a job to do, they can't help but be excited to go to all the theme parks. The Tojans have had multiple fundraisers to assist them  in their fundraising efforts to get the funding for their trip; a Lottery raffle  and multiple Restaurant sponsored events just to name a few. 
The girls have enjoyed Hollywood Studios so far, along with Disney Springs. They are hoping to enjoy the remaining parks soon.  Their most favorite activity has been the Team Pool Party.  All of these athletes have enjoyed their dance routine the most. Each athlete has their own particular part that they enjoy.  Enjoy your time here Central High Trojans!


MID SOUTH REGION SPOTLIGHT:
Tuesday Afternoon
This young team is experiencing their  very first National trip in the history of their organization. They are pioneers in their Region with a very promising look into their future teams coming up in the next few years. In order to help fund their trip to Disney, the team hosted various fundraisers including Bake Sales, Lottery Raffles, etc. They were able to succeed with the help of their Community Support.
In addition to going to the Parks, they have been hosting group activities for their Team and Families such as Game Night. They play Uno tournaments for fun. 
Asking the Team what their most favorite part of their routine was, they each showed me different parts of the dancing that they liked the best. Each one of the athletes liked a different part of the dance routine and I got to see a demonstration while waiting their turn in line to take the Mat.
This team has had a few things to overcome this season such as sudden quits and a few injuries. A couple of injuries happened right at Regional time, but they were able to pull it together to get the score needed to advance to the National Competition.
Most of this team has never even flown before and have enjoyed the experience of the flights, airports, riding the Magical Express. They have found the bus transportation fun riding around the Disney Property.


NEW ENGLAND REGION SPOTLIGHT: Tuesday Afternoon
The Taunton Tiger Varsity team, from New England, has been here before. They know what to expect and are ready to compete. This team of 15 has been together for 4 previous trips to the National Pop Warner Cheer and Dance Championships. They feel the pressure but are prepared. 
To prepare for their big trip, they had some pretty unique fundraising events. They held bake sales outside of polling locations, a 10k and Bibbidi-Bobbi did-boo breakfast. Now that they are here, the plan is to complete the task at hand.  Once that is done, they plan to make the most of the parks while they support their sister teams when they compete at the end of the week. These rock stars know how to handle their fame!!


WESCON REGION SPOTLIGHT:
Tuesday Afternoon
This afternoon we had the pleasure of talking with the Pee Wee South Gate Lady Aztecs under the direction of head coach Carmen Gonzalez.  Carmen and her teams (Jr Pee Wee, Pee Wee & JV) teams are very excited to be here. Being a new Association to the OEC Conference, their goal was to advance to the national championship, quite an accomplishment!
Like all teams, much fundraising was needed to be able to travel such as selling popcorn, housewares items, chocolate, doing food drives where they sold tacos, tamales & enchiladas.  They also received sponsorship's from different local businesses. 
One of the most memorable moments for Coach Carmen occurred when taking the team to Magic Kingdom and looking at the castle all lit up and the kids saying “Thank you for getting us here.  We would of never experienced this without you!”  
The teams favorite part of their routine is the tumbling & dance.  They are fired up to go out there and do there best!
The teams motto: Rep the Gate. Best of luck Lady Aztecs!!!




NEW ENGLAND MEDIA REPRESENTATIVE (for MID SOUTH): MELODYE WILDE
I’ve been in Pop Warner for the past ten years since my son started @ Mitey Mite Level In 2008. I have been on the Board of Directors for The Edgewood Eagles as the Director of Finance/Administration since 2008. I also help run the Football program. 
In 2017, I moved into the position of Ocean State Pop Warner Cheer Coordinator, bringing multiple teams down at all levels for the past two years to Nationals. 


NEW ENGLAND REGION SPOTLIGHT: Tuesday Morning
The Amity Spartans Pee Wee team traveled to Orlando from the New England Region. Most of the team was here last year and had a great time. The new members of the team are excited to learn what it’s all about. They put the work in all season long and feel ready. Head Coach Sarah Mastersanti said that once the team qualified, they put their extra time into fundraising to help them cover the cost of traveling. They couldn’t have done it without the support of their program and their town, something that they are proud of and grateful for.
They’ve had their time in the parks, which they completely enjoyed, but now it’s time to focus because they are ready. According to Coach Sarah, this is a great group of girls to coach. They’ve had a great season and are ending in the best possible way. Go Spartans!


WESCON REGION MEDIA REPRESENTATIVE: JENN BUSH
My name is Jenn Bush.  I am the LCDC for San Diego Pop Warner.  This is my 3rd season as LCDC. My background in cheer stems from cheering for San Diego Pop Warner when I was 9 yrs old.  Cheered all through my youth years into High School.  Hung up my Pom poms in College to swim.  In 2001 I had twin girls. 2007 had another little girl named Skylar.  2008 my twin girls Sierra & Makaela decided they wanted to cheer.  I signed them up with the Santee Cowboys. 2009 I started coaching cheer.  In 2011 Santee changed over to Pop Warner.  The Santee Ravens were emerged.  2014 I was nominated for the ACDC position for Santee Ravens and my little one started cheering for Santee.  In 2016 the LCDC position came available for San Diego.  I went for it and got it.  I love the sport of cheer and love the energy that it brings to me.  It is a lot of work, but I have to say the most rewarding aspect about my position is watching all these kids having fun.  Makes all the long hours worth it. 


WESCON REGION SPOTLIGHT
: Tuesday morning
This morning we had the pleasure of speaking to the Carlsbad Fighting Lancers Pee Wee team.  This is the first time this team has ever been to the National Competition.  This awesome team is head coached by Viviana Lopez and Asst coach Caly Bell. Carlsbad has not had a cheer team in over 3 years, so for these young athletes to advance to the national championships is quite an accomplishment.
But that is not to say they have not had their fair share of  obstacles this season.  Being a new team, these girls  have never cheered before...  Viviana had to teach all the girls the very basics of cheer, even the most basic high V.
The best moment so far for this team was walking into the ESPN center.  Seeing the huge screen showing cheerleaders performing on the National mat.  These girls know what they have accomplished to be here.
Their favorite part of their routine is the dance.  They can get sassy and give attitude.  Which they did out there. 
The Carlsbad motto is: Its CBAD time. Best of luck today Lady Fighting Lancers 



MID-AMERICA REGION SPOTLIGHT
: Monday Afternoon Session
We are the Bensenville Bandits.....This JV medium Level 2 team is very
 excited to be here at Nationals.  Not a stranger to the national championships, this is the third year this team has advanced.  When asked what their coaches have taught them, "you cant smile with your eyebrows down. They always say "keep your eyebrows up". Go ahead , try to smile with your eyebrows down. They do all agree about their favorite part of their routine...We love to Stunt!!!  Like many teams that travel to the championships, they too have lost some participants and needed to accommodate by changing the routine, but only had two weeks to make all the changes. Our Goal for Nationals is to place in the top 5! "Our coaches push us as a team!!!   They are very supportive of us, and push us to the limits.  But, they are also very proud of us!"   Go Bandits!


PACIFIC NORTHWEST REGION SPOTLIGHT
: Monday
Cali came to bring it! The Pacifica Tigersharks JV team consist of five coaches and twenty-nine of the most determined, tough and lively group of young ladies with variety of personalities you would ever want to meet.  Most would think this behavior is to be expected from a group of middle school girls with a small group of them who have been cheering together since five and six years old.  Traveling for the team was made easy when you have parents willing to make the trip from California to Florida to support the team at Nationals. This team is not new to Nationals winning 1st place in 2016 and placing in 2017.  “We are ready for another 1st place and a chance to attend Global,” said coach Melissa.  These young ladies are not afraid of hard work.  They had six fundraisers in three weeks to help fund the trip to Disney.  “Sometimes it takes a lot to get the girls to go full out or just to smile, but when the cameras are turned on it’s a go”, said coach Melissa and Chelsea.  The coaches provided a motivating and inspirational speech while waiting to perform.  I also got to witness to bond and love between the coaches while being lead to the performance floor. They say, “Teamwork makes the Dreamwork”, well this is true for the girls and the coaches. 


EASTERN REGION SPOTLIGHT
: Monday
The Fallsburg Comets are under the direction of coaching staff that includes Head Coach Kierra, Assistant Coach Erin and Assistant Coach Andrea. There are 16 girls on the team. Some of the girls have been cheering with team for 5 years, yet there are those that have just joined this year. 

Although cheer is the sport of choice, these girls are year round athletes participating in basketball, track, wresting, ice hockey, softball, volleyball, and soccer.  The team is from various school districts within Sullivan County.  This is why they call themselves the Comet Nation.
This is the fifth time at Nationals. Kim, the only member of the squad to age out after this year, has been to every National event. To help with the costly expenses of getting to Nationals from New York, the team fund-raised via coin tosses, candy sales, and penny socials. The biggest money maker for the Comets was the coin drop at the craft fair located at their local community college. The girls raised money by selling their own crafts to put towards their travel funds. They are not only athletes, they are artisans as well. 
 The girls felt their last practice was the most motivational because all of their stunts hit.  The team would know to get down to business when coaches yelled out “Ladies.”
The Head Coach often said during last warm up, “It’s you up there -fight for it.”  The coaches are impressed how the girls micromanaged  on their own along with the ability to work things out on their own.   One of the girls said to me the key for a successful stunt is communication with the back spots at all times.  Some other words of wisdom from these lovely young ladies were to try not to get frustrated over the little stuff and learn from your mistakes and move on. As we sat in the quiet room the Coach asked the girls to fill in the blank: I pray for _____ for this team: They responded with: Strength, Success, Happiness,1st place, Facials, Winning, Confidence, Victory, Sass, National Champions, Smiles, Love, Hits, Top 5, Positive, and Passion


WESCON REGION SPOTLIGHT
: Monday Afternoon Session
This afternoon we had the pleasure of talking to the Temecula Valley JV Golden Bears.   This team is Head Coached by Kristen and her assistant coaches Jackie, Holly, Star & Patricia.
The Temecula Bears are not new to the national championships, they are the reigning Pee Wee PW1.  With 14 of the 16 participants being new to the team, while a challange, has been so rewarding to see the team bond and grow.  
These girls did a ton of fundraising that consisted of restaurants, candle sales & running the snack bars at football games. 
While they know their priority is competition, they all can’t wait to the theme parks!!!  The girls favorite part of the routine is the pyramid. 
Their motto, Faith over Fear. 
Best of luck Lady Golden Bears!! 



SOUTHEAST REGION SPOLIGHT
: Monday Afternoon Session
Who’s got my back….Warriors!
What a wonderful chat that describes this group of strong and grateful young ladies!  The Lee County Warriors Varsity team are true fighters.  This group seemed to energetic, lively and absent of fear today. The team experienced the devastation of Hurricane Michael which not only destroyed property but left the team without a practice facility for weeks before the Regional competition which meant even less time to prepare before Nationals.  Luckily the local high school came to the rescue after their regular season and some Hurricane repairs.  The trials and tribulations didn’t stop there.  The remains of the hurricane also presented a fund-raising dilemma as well as the competition with local recreational teams. The Warriors didn’t give up because of shear dedication and diligent efforts to attend National for the first time.  The team made the most of the trip by taking the girls to the Disney parks to relax before competition. The coaches and team parent continued to motivate the girls on and off the floor.  So, when they chant “Who’s got my back…”, they know it will always and forever be the Warriors.


7 IS THE LUCKIEST NUMBER
Many teams have rituals, look for “a sign”, or are maybe even a little superstitious. But for the Manasquan Warriors, they feel they have a lucky number…7. For Head Coach Katharine Fitzgerald, she has felt 7 was lucky for her for some time.  In 2007, she was on the first Manasquan Jr. Midget team of 27 to advance to the national championships with a team of 7th graders. Placing second place at nationals that year, Katharine is excited for her team to have the same memorable experience she did her first nationals.In only her second year as Head Coach, this small, but mighty, JV team is the only team from Manasquan to advance to Disney this season. Katharine has noticed that lucky number 7 has seemed to come full circle this year again. 7 of the girls are returners. Most are in 7th grade; just like in 2007.Wishing the Manasquan Warriors the best of luck here at Disney and hope #7 is lucky for you this year!


MID-SOUTH SPOTLIGHT
-Monday Afternoon Session
The Mara Colts are relatively new to the national championships, only a few of the girls have traveled to Orlando prior to this year. For the first timers...they are ecstatic.
The Colts Community has helped their fundraising efforts in order to get the team here. The girls have sold Drinkware and hosted Restaurant Nights at various restaurants as a big potion of their fundraising. 
This team seems to be injury prone this season. The current Flyer, has just recently replaced the replacement due to a leg injury that took her out for most of the season. Luckily she was able to jump right back in when needed!
Like most every team to be lucky enough to get here, these girls are excited about all of the different parks. They don’t even have a favorite. They want to make sure that they get to spend time at each one, and cannot wait until the Wednesday party at Animal Kingdom.
The team also has a favorite portion of their routine. They can’t wait for the audience to see their stunting, but in particular their basket tosses! They are super excited to show them off. Good Luck Mara Colts!


NEW ENGLAND REGION SPOTLIGHT
- Monday Morning Session
The Old Rochester Bulldogs Varsity cheerleaders are thrilled to be attending the Pop Warner National Cheer and Dance Championship. They traveled from the New England Region and are representing their region with pride. Their team of 10 has struggled through injuries and have spent a lot of time trying to keep it together and complete the season. After qualifying to attend the national competition, they put their efforts into staying healthy and fundraising to offset the cost of attendance. A pasta dinner and T-shirt sponsors proved to be helpful in raising needed funds.
Now that The Bulldogs have arrived, having fun in the parks is on the agenda but the team is focused on one goal. The coaches want to see a clean routine. Coaches and cheerleaders want to see the team walk off the mat with smiles knowing that they did the best routine of the season.


WESCON REGION SPOTLIGHT:
Monday Morning Session
This morning we had the pleasure of meeting up with the Gilbert Varsity Lady Jaguars.  This amazing team is Head Coached by Kiarrah along with her Assistant Coaches Katrina and Angel. This is their 4th year attending the national championships.  They did many fundraisers to get them here: car washes, booths at their local stores & spaghetti dinners.
While here at Walt Disney World, they plan on visiting all 4 theme parks and celebrating tonight with a awesome team dinner! The team had many challenges this year, one being finding the time to juggle cheer with scholastics.  Their best moment so far here at the National Championships is walking onto the ESPN floor.  They are so happy to be here!  The girls favorite part of their routine is the last dance. They “love” the energy of this dance.  Wishing these awesome ladies the best of luck today!!!


MID-SOUTH REGION SPOTLIGHT:
Monday Morning Session
The Coastal Bengals from the Mid South Region have reached the National level of competition for the past 9 years according to their Head Coach. In order to help get the team here, they partake in multiple fundraisers including (but not limited to), Lottery Raffles and Coupon Cards. The Community supports their efforts significantly, and is extremely proud at the level of excellence and representation that these athletes provide at the National level. 
All of the coaches and athletes feel that their dance portion of the routine is the best part. They have worked hard to perfect their moves and can’t wait to show them off.
With the new setup at ESPN, the Coaches are happy and relieved about the new practice set up. This new setup keeps the stress level and noise down where it is possible for the athletes to remain focused in their routine.
The team is excited to do many things while in Disney, but they are most excited to go see the sights and rides at Walt Disney World. There is an array of variation as to which ride they are for he most excited about. Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain, who knows? 


SOUTHWEST REGION SPOTLIGHT:
Monday Morning Session
"We are strong alone and unstoppable together!" That's the team motto for the Four Points Vipers from Austin Texas.  The Jr. Pee Wee PW3 team is very excited to be here in Orlando. No strangers to the national championships, this is the third year advancing for many of these performers. 
You ask what they love most about traveling to Disney? Why the parks and shopping of course! But it is not all fun and games here for them.  Three years ago the JPW team from Four Points captured the National Title, and they are definitely looking for a repeat.
Like most teams, it takes much fund raising to travel. They worked the concession stands, sell gator aide, candy, potato chips. We were so successful with our fund raising that each family was given $200.00 for our trip.  
Good Luck Four Points Vipers!

 

SOUTHEAST REGION SPOTLIGHT- Monday Morning Session
Show Up and Show Out!
What happens when you have a team with a motto that describes their performance? The Richmond Perrine Giants JPW showed the crowd exacting what it means to show up and show out with a capital T! This is the team’s first time attending Nationals and they came to put on a show.  “Preparation is everything,” said the coaches. A shining example of this is fund raising for Nationals since the beginning of the season. The girls were willing to put in the work to get to here.  With seven of the most dedicated coaches a team could have the Giants are keep motivated and encouraged.  This became the most important part of the day because the girls will soon find out that today was a tribute to family.  The coaches decided to not disclose the tragedy to keep the girls focused on the hard work it took to get here as well as having fun. With a combination of new first-time cheerleaders and several seasoned cheerleaders with a variety of spunky personalities they still need a hype man, or should I say woman.  Coach NeeNee swooped right in right before they hit the floor with words of inspiration and a prayer.  She reminded the team to remove all doubt because there isn’t anything they can’t do when they put their minds to it.  The Giants are also planning to stay at Disney to support their other teams who will be performing.  I guess for the Richmond Perrine Giants JPW you could say “When life gives you lemons you make cheer-ade!”  


THAT'S THE WAY TO OPEN THE 2018 NATIONAL POP WARNER CHAMPIONSHIPS

The opening of the National Championships did not disappoint! Thirty-two teams ran the red carpet to the blue mat yesterday in the Tiny-Mite and Mitey Mite exhibition performances in the HP Fieldhouse. And boy did they shine. These 5-8 year olds had all the smiles, sass and attitudes the older teams do. So mature beyond their years. These teams were offered the same experience as the competitive teams, including practice the day prior, the quiet room, and Parade of Champions. Probably their most favorite part of the day...the Tailgate Party at THE ARENA after that consisted of lots of food and fun. Face painting, character pictures, Mickey Mouse ice cream and a DJ playing dance music provided an outlet for any extra energy they may have had left after their performance. 
New to Pop Warner this year was the ability to declare a Mighty-Mite League Champion. This definitely contributed to the increased performance level shown during their routines.  Many coaches feel grooming these young athletes for competition earlier has increased their retention of cheerleaders.  Although they were unable to compete, many regions invited Mitey Mite teams to perform exhibition at the Regional events, to let them get a taste of the competitive spirit. 
Seven of the eight regions were represented and included PW1, PW2, Theme dance, Hip Hop and Sideline Performance cheer.
These tiny power houses are the future of our programs, and our future is looking BRIGHT! 

EASTERN REGION SPOTLIGHT: Saturday
The Plainfield Lady Cardinals Tiny Mites proudly represented the Eastern Region during the Tiny Mite - Mitey Mite Cheer and Dance Exhibition. This cheer squad started the season with 10 athletes and finished their journey to Nationals just four; Layla (aka Baby Bopp), Faith, Aaria and Alevin (aka “Tootie).  Coaching staff comprises of Head Coach Quedah, Assistant Coach Aliya, Assistant Coach Mercedes and Chawanda Tucker, the Association  Coordinator.  Together they fund raised their trip via Crispy Cream sales and canning.The biggest challenge the coaching staff overcame during the season was change of the routine when its members dwindled from 10, then 6, to 5, until its final 4-all being five years old.  Their biggest accomplishment was the teams ability to stunt with limited coordination and short attention spans. These coaches are truly dedicated to their team. The girls favorite thing to do is cheer. They love to jump, flip, do splits and compete. They said the hardest things to overcome during practice was stopping the noise (chatting and giggling), attendance, staying still and being loud when cheering. They were quick to learn that when a coach says “PLC” it meant to start the routine from the cheer-the beginning. They started today with checking in, 10 minutes on stretch mats where they warmed up with stretching, jumping and tumbling. Then it was onto the practice mat where they had another 10 minutes to practice their routine before heading to the performance mat. After that it was onto the mat to show off their hard work to their biggest fans-Coaches, Family, and Friends. These four little girls gave it their all and performed a thumbs up performance.  Great job ladies. Enjoy your team pool party! Quick facts about these four lovely ladies.  When watching cable tv, the shows to watch are Mickey and Minnie and Paw Patrol. However, when watching YouTube, the must watch shows are: Slime Show, LOL, and T Dobre Bros. Their favorite princes are Rapunzel, Belle and Snow White.



NEW ENGLAND REGION SPOTLIGHT
-Saturday
The Waterbury Patriots Tiny Mites have arrived and are ready to cheer at Nationals for the first time as a team.  Traveling from Connecticut and part of the New England Region, are ten young ladies, ages 5 and 6 that make up this team.  Two sets of sisters make up this team, one set being twins.  Both sets of sisters also have a brother playing football today in the Mitey Mite Bowl today.  They plan to head back to the field and cheer them on after their performance.  Since arriving in Florida, the girls have enjoyed going to the parks with the Voyage of the Little Mermaid a team favorite.  They also enjoy swimming in the pool and look forward to that after the Party today.  For fundraising they held a donut sale and a dance.  We wish them the best of luck. 


MID AMERICA REGION SPOTLIGHT
- Saturday
Welcome Tri Town Raiderettes from Northern Indiana Pop Warner!!!
For this team of very excited Tiny Mites, it is not their first visit here at the National Championships. For the second year, this vivacious group has entertained the crowd at the HP Fieldhouse.  But what are they most excited about you ask? They just want to go swimming in the hotel pool. But not until after the Tailgate Party when Minnie and Mickie will sign their T-shirts, and they have Mickey Mouse ice cream!  
They are not just team mates. not even just friends.  They are Dance Sisters!.  "We have so much fun together and see each other every day.  We hang out together in the summer doing a lot of fun things, like rock painting."
This confident co-ed team with two boys "just love to dance. We know we are winners already as we are at nationals, which makes us a winner.  Next year we are moving to Mitey Mites."
We can't wit to watch you grow through the Pop Warner program Tri Town!


SOUTHEAST REGION SPOTLIGHT
: Saturday
Florida Panhandle Strong! 
Hurricane Michael was one of the most powerful and destructive storms to ever hit Florida. It made landfall and ripped through the Panhandle leveling everything in its path.  While waiting to see what the destruction would bring, the eye of the storm took a turn from Crestview towards Panama City.  The Hub City Bulldogs Mitey Mite team was spared the brunt of the storm but sprang into action to help their community and fellow associations.  Coaches Earline and Crissi through sheer dedication to the team and the community       continued to keep the team motivated and the girls wanted to continue the season preparing for the Regional and National Competitions.  While fund raising, gathering donations and being granted sponsorships the team was still able to conduct Hurricane relief efforts to help their surrounding community.  Coach Earline made great use of the time given before the team’s performance by bringing the girls together for what she called a “A Performance Cheer Prayer”.  The beautiful words of the prayer and the additional motivational words would remind the girls of their goal during the season which was to make it to nationals. Watching the coaches interact with the girls illuminates the love, support and pride of the Southeast Region. The team is Blessed not to have any displaced families due to the storm but continues to pray for the fellow associations and their league.  The coaches are very grateful for their wonderful parents and the awesome experience of Disney. 



MID-AMERICA REGION SPOTLIGHT: Saturday
For the Love of Dance!
The Cleveland Rams Mitey Mite Theme Dance team is proud to attend the 2018 National Cheer and Dance Championships Tiny Mite – Mitey Mite Cheer and Dance Divisions day of performances.  This team has five coaches and describes this group of girls as a spunky and tenacious group of young ladies that they are proud to represent.  The many personalities can be a challenge, but the girls will always come together as one to assure a fabulous performance.  The coaches agree the girls are easy to teach and they love what they do.  It seems as if it comes natural to the girls.  To reduce the stress of any funding barriers team is completely supported by the parents who diligently raised the funds for the girls to attend the National Cheer and Dance event.  I guess the old saying of “It takes a Village” rings true for the Cleveland Rams Mitey Mite Theme Dance team!


Welcome to the 2018 Pop Warner National Championships. We have a packed event for you this year! More than 550 performances consisting of 101 dance routines, the new Sideline Performance Cheer division, YouTube live streaming, and so much more! Check back often to get the inside scoop on our featured Region Media Teams, human interest stories from across the country, and of course the daily recap.  Also, don't forget to check out the photos uploaded after each session.
The event opens with the dazzling exhibition performances from our youngest stars, the Tiny Mite and Mitey Mites.  32 teams from across the country all excited to "take the floor". We hope you visit often, and please, share the page.  See you soon!

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