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"Welcome to Cheer Chatter"

by Kelly Nicholson - Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team

Welcome to Walt Disney World and the 2013 Pop Warner National Cheer and Dance Championships! 

My name is Kelly Nicholson, the Southeast Region Spirit Promotions representative.  For the next seven days, I 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!
Pop Warner's First ESPN3 Live Broadcast a Huge Success!

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Friday, December 13, 2013

If you didn't tune in th ESPN3 last night, then you certainly missed out!!!

The very first LIVE Pop Warner Cheerleading broadcast went off without a hitch! The HP field house was packed with excited participants, parents and spectators to be part of the event.

The doors opened at 4:00 with the crowd waiting to storm the arena to get their "lucky" seats! "We have to sit in these seats. It is the lucky seats, when we sit here our teams win" one parent announces.

Football teams also got to enjoy the action as the event was a little later in the day when the fields were shut down. DJ Chris kept the crowd energized and hyped until showtime at 5:00.

The teams were excited, nervous and hamming it up for the cameras from staging all the way thru exiting the floor. All squads looked great and represented Pop Warner proudly to the nation. ESPN3 reaches 85 million fans!

Hopefully next year, we we see even more air time for our amazing Pop Warner Teams!

Pop Warner Microbes Heading to Space

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Friday, December 13, 2013
The Science Cheerleaders are current and former NFL and NBA cheerleaders pursuing science and technology careers, and have been collecting microbial samples from Pop Warner cheerleaders at footbal games throughout the season.

The winners of PROJECT MERCURRI were announced and the teams found out whose microbes are heding into space. The project is anchored by the Eisen Lab at the University of California Davis, investigates how microbes from Earth compare to those found on the International Space Station. Microbes colected from cell phones and shoes of seven Pop Warner teams will blast into orbit on the ISS for a zero-gravity growth competition.

These samples will be sequenced and analyzed at UC Davis and Argonne National Lab anc compared to samples from the ISS to learn about the population and behaviors of microbes, which may have implications for long-term manned space travel.

The microbes will be flown to the ISS via the Space X Rocket, scheduled to blast off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on February 22, 2014.

The Pop Warner Cheer teams whose microbes are basting off are:

  • Apopka Blue Darters (FL)
  • Chittenango Bears (NY)
  • Coastal Bengals (NC)
  • Coronado Islanders (CA)
  • Lauderhill Broncos (FL)
  • Lake Brantley Patriots (FL)
  • Port Reading Saints (NJ)

The Darters, Bears, Bengals and Patriots all qualified for the 2013 National Championship and were in Orlando this week. The squads were incredibly excited!

Results of the "Microbial playoffs" growth competition on the station will be available on SpaceMicrobes.org were visitors can also find free interavtive visualizaton tools and ongoing lesson plans.
Aunties Save the Year!!!

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Thursday, December 12, 2013

Had it not been for Head Coach Anna Knuth and daughter, Katie, stepping up, The Pee Wee cheer team Ramona Dawg Pack from the Wescon Region would never have existed.

The Dawg Pack lost their entire coaching staff throughout the season. Without a coaching staff, the team could not continue to be. Lucky for the Dawg Pack, Gabby Sawyer, a member of the team, has one amazing Great Aunt!!! Anna Knuth, without hesitation, knew what she had to do. This team was going to Florida, and she was going to get them there.

Anna had adopted Gabby at the age of 2, and wasn't going to let her, or her teammates, down. That is when Anna and her daughter Katie came to the rescue!!

We are so glad that the Ramona Dawg Pack from the Palomar Conference in Southern California were able to stay together as a team, and partake in this journey of a lifetime!!!

International Dance Team Performs at Cheer & Dance Championships

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Thursday, December 12, 2013

Today Pop Warner Dance Fans had a huge treat!! The Halcones Dance Team from Puebla, Mexico performed as an International Dance team today at the National Championship!!!

These four charismatic, beautiful young girls have only been dancing together for three short months. They are incredibly excited to be the first Mexican team to represent their hometown of Puebla. Jecqueline age 11, Vanessa age 12, Ana Christine age 12 (Happy Birthday tomorrow Ana Christine!!) and Vanya age 12, arrived in Orlando Sunday and have been having a blast. They have visited Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios. All the girls are in junior High School.

They are the only Pop Warner Dance Team in their area. Vanya's father is the Head Coach of the Mexican International Football team playing today at the complex. The girls have done quite a bit of fundraising to pay for their week long trip to Florida.

Originally, the style of dance the girls had chosen was Salsa, but preferred Hip Hop. They approached a well know Hip Hop Choreographer in Puebla, who was willing to coach and choreograph their routine. Andres "Nacho" Gracida, is a pretty big deal for these girls!!

Nacho began studying classical ballet with the Royal Academy of Dance in London under the direction of Professor Ivonne Robles Gil, and complemented with contemporary dance studies with renowned teachers such as Beth Megill (University of Wisconsin) , Mary Fitzgerald (University of Arizona ) , Jennifer Tsukayama (NYU), among others , in addition to several courses and workshops with Cristina Zatti ( Examiners RAD), Michelle Vegis (Scala Di Milano , etc.).

Subsequently professionally trained as a dancer in hip hop at the Millennium Dance Complex and Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio in Los Angeles , California, with the best examples of the industry as Luther Brown, Teresa Espinosa, Roger Lee, JP San Pedro, Dante 7 Kennis Marquis, Mark Samuels, Danny Davalos, Darrin Henson, Milo Levell, etc.

Initially developed his career in the city of Puebla as a principal dancer of CDAP, then join the Ballet Spectacular Latino Cancun , Quintana Roo , appearing in multiple shows in the Riviera Maya and the Caribbean.

In 2005 it is recommended to join the BLOC Los Angeles, California, responsible for the representation of choreographers and dancers in the entertainment industry, and from 2006 agency began his professional career in the United States, where he has held various jobs as choreographer and / or dancer:

- DESCONTROL (NBC -Telemundo)
YO - YOGA ( Holamun2)
KIARA - FORD (American Idol)
- ARHLY ( Monitor Latino Convention 2008)
Among others.

In addition to his professional development , he has been an instructor of various disciplines such as hip hop, Latin rhythms and cardio dance , teaching and courses within and outside the country, among them :

-DK Dance Factory (North Hollywood, CA)
- Spotlight Dance Studio ( Cudahy, CA)
-A Dance Studio (Los Angeles, CA)
- Hype Dance Studios ( Torrance , CA)
- Tecnológico de Monterrey (Puebla, Mex)
- PUASP (Puebla, Mex)
-Dance Workshop Program ( San Diego , CA)

Currently a member of the prestigious talent agency , McDonald Selznick Associates ( Hollywood, CA) , and divides his time between professional work in the United States and Mexico mount shows for various companies such as RM Shows and Entertainment products.

He is the director , choreographer and founder of DA HOOD DANCE CREW , ambitious project for the training of new talent , and HIP HOP MASTERS PRODUCTIONS, company responsible for producing courses , events and shows high level.

With 12 years of experience in the art world and the show has set trends and always looking to stay ahead by constantly training and personal development.

Good Luck to these dynamic foursome!!!! You have represented your country proudly!! We hope to see you again next year!!

Jr. Reporter - Wednesday Afternoon - December 11, 2013

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Our last Jr. reporter for the week was Leah Davis.

She is 18 years old and is a Jr. Coach for the JPW Avalon Wolves who performed on Monday. She has cheered with Pop Warner for approximately 7 years.

Leah plans on attending FAU or FIU next year, and of course, plans on cheering in College.

Leah was incredibly outgoing and a warm welcome to all the teams this afternoon as she had the opportunity to interview each team with the Disney Reporter, Renee Adams.

"What a way to end my experience at Nationals this week" says Leah.

Thank you Leah for Jr. Reporting this week!!!

Jr. Reporter - Wednesday Morning - December 11, 2013

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Wednesday, December 11, 2013

And, our Wednesday Jr. Reporter is Kate. She is part of the Avalon Wolves PW4 team competing Thursday during the Live Broadcast. Check her out tomorrow from 5-8pm on ESPN3.com!!!

This is Kates third year competing at Nationals and she is from Orlando, Florida.

Hi, my name is Kate Aldinger and I am your Jr. Reporter for Wednesday morning. The first team I interviewed was the Howell Lions from the Eastern Region. The team sold flowers, wreaths and did car washes to raise money to come to Florida. It is their second time at the National Championships.

The team has gone to the Magic Kingdom this week. Their favorite part of their routine is the dance and tumbling!! The squad says their stunts are pretty hard but have worked hard to perfect them.

The second team I interviewed was the Northwest Raiders from San Antonio, Texas.

They are very nervous, as this is their very first time at Nationals. They have been to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Animal Kingdom. They really enjoyed Space Mountain.

Their favorite part of the cheerleading season is going to the competitions and the favorite part of their routine is the tumbling. This season they learned how to do tick tocks and j up's.

Pop Warner Cheerleading Comes to ESPN3!

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Good Morning Pop Warner Fans!

It has been an amazing Championship thus far! The squads have come prepared and look great!

But, you may be wondering why you havent seen any PW4 teams take the floor as of yet....Wait to you hear what we have in store for you!!!

For the first time ever in Pop Warner history, the PW4 teams will be broadcasted live Thursday evening on ESPN3/Watch ESPN.

From 5pm to 8pm, December 12, the PW4 teams will take the floor with lights, camera and comentators. Time to show what Pop Warner Cheerleading is all about and how the program has evolved.

In addition, the four Championship Dance teams from each level will perform.

Tune into ESPN3.com or access through popwarnersb.com.

Don't miss out on what will hopefully be the beginning of many live broadcasts!!!

Our Good Luck Charm!

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It was October 2006 & we were at the Arena for our very first Jersey Shore League Competition. Now, this was my first competition with a team that I had been coaching for 3 years at this point. We had 2 years prior together at the Mitey Mite level, so this was a very big deal for our team.

I was lucky enough to be able to coach my daughter who started cheering for Pop Warner in 2003, who was on this team. The other coaches, cheerleaders and I got on the warm up mat, had our 3 minutes to warm up and we were ready to go.

Now back then, the coaches were allowed to stay with the girls in the tunnel for a while. This was great because we could get them psyched up and ready to perform. So, we're in the tunnel getting the girls all ready to go perform and all of a sudden my daughter, Gina, starts getting upset. She said flat out that she couldn't go on the mats and do the routine that we've been practicing the pas month and a half.

Of course, the first response in my head was "why does it have to be my daughter?" As the head coach, I wanted to take charge but knew because it was my daughter, I had to let someone else take the lead on this one. One of the other coaches, Denise, started talking to her. It seemed at that time to be working well, so I thought. At this point, out of nowhere came a very friendly face. She was full of enthusiasm and smiling from ear to ear…It was Cathy Fuller.

I explained our situation to Cathy and she so calmly said "I got this, don't worry". She took Gina aside and spoke with her privately for a couple of moments. At this point, it was time for the coaches to be separated from the cheerleaders. Of course, I was nervous, not only as a coach, but as a Mom! Next thing I knew, the announcer introduced the girls. They came out onto those mats with smiles that lit up the entire arena. All the girls performed great, especially Gina. I didn't know what came over her, but her energy was untouchable and she was right on the entire routine. She showed such confidence that morning and our team actually won 1st place that day! I turned out to be a fantastic day that gave us memories to last a lifetime.

So, what did Cathy Fuller say to my daughter? What could she possibly say to an 8 year old little girl who five minutes before her team's performance didn't want to go out on the mats? She told he about a little princess lunchbox. Yes, a princess lunchbox. She told Gina to focus on the lunch box and nothing else. Don't look at the judges-just look at the lunchbox. I know…it seemed a little crazy, but it worked! Gina focused on her counts, looked at the lunchbox and felt comfortable out there on those mats. It helped her overcome whatever she was fearful of and it seemed to give her the strength she needed. I will forever be in debt to Cathy and that princess lunchbox for helping my daughter and my team.

Now, that was 2006. It is now 7 years later and that princess lunchbox is still at our competitions with us. It goes to every competition, from our league all the way to the end at nationals. That little princess lunchbox is our strength, our rock, our good luck charm to this day. My daughter is now 17 years old and a student demonstrator. She remembers that day in 2006 like it was yesterday and can still tell you about how she stared at the princess lunchbox during her first competition. She knew then what we all know now – that lunchbox is New Jersey's Shore good luck charm and provides us all with the confidence and strength we need to succeed. As crazy as it sounds – it's true. It somehow has captured our hearts and makes our league stronger every year. I can't imagine a competition without that princess lunchbox. I can't imagine not having our good luck charm with us at every competition.

This is just one story about that princess lunchbox, there are thousands of stories inside it. Thousands of stories that have inspired New Jersey Shore Cheerleaders to go out and do their best with their teams.Stories that those cheerleaders can carry with them.Stories that little girls will remember for a lifetime. Stories of that little princess lunchbox is our strength, gives us the confidence we need and is undoubtedly our good luck charm. The good luck charm that is the heart of New Jersey Shore Cheerleaders!

Brave Wildcat Cheerleader Challenges Childhood Cancer

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Alyssa is 12 years old and until the end of September, was a happy and healthy child and a cheerleader since the age of 6 for our Pop Warner Team, the West Windsor-Plainsboro Wildcats.

In September, we found out that Alyssa had a very large tumor in one of her ovaries. After surgery to have it removed, Alyssa was diagnosed with a rare disease of a split germ cell tumor. This meant that half of the tumor was benign and the other half, malignant. It had started to metastasize. Thankfully, they removed everything with the surgery. Alyssa is going through four rounds of chemotherapy treatments to ensure there aren't any microorganisms floating around her body that could cause more tumors.

Alyssa went through surgery and came out saying "I still want to compete in the Central Jersey competition with our team." Unfortunately she wasn't healed in time to compete. Her solution, "I'll be the music girl". After that competition we started chemotherapy and with the Alyssa had to have a port placed. With the port, we knew that Alyssa would not be able to be a back spot and because of the chemotherapy treatments, she shouldn't be tumbling either.

This didn't stop her. Alyssa continued to come to practices to support her team and to make sure they were doing the best they could. As we started on this very difficult journey, Alyssa never gave up on being part of our team, just as the team never made her feel any less than just that, always a part of our team. Alyssa told her doctors that no matter what, she was going to the Eastern Regional Competition with her team because she was in charge of music!

My daughter is an amazing young lady! She has inspired so many people with her courage and strength! When she is feeling good, she is at school and still coming to cheer practice. Keeping the team in line! She is raising money to donate to finding a cure for childhood cancer.

Instead of letting it beat her, she will beat it!!

To date, she has raised with the help of her friends and fellow cheerleaders, close to $7,000.00. I believe that because of high standards that Pop Warner has for its athletes, we the Wildcat's have built a wonderful Wildcat Cheer Family!!!

Jr. Reporter - Tuesday Morning - December 9, 2013

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Our Jr. Reporter for Tuesday morning is Emma Mueller from Hoffman Estates Red Hawks from Illinois in the Mid America Region.

Emma has been cheering since she was 7 years old. She is a Jr. Coach for the Mighty Mite team who performed on Saturday. Emma has been to the National Championships five separate years.

Today when I first got here, I interviewed a few teams on stage. Most of them were nervous, especially the coaches. But more than anything, they were excited. I asked some questions like "what is your team name/ where are you from", "what parks did you go to/ what is your favorite ride, ""how long have you been here," "what parks have you gone to/ what is your favorite park" and "have you seen any characters/ what is your favorite character."

After asking all the usual questions, we asked them to perform a chant that they had prepared. All of the teams had something unique and I loved them all! To finish it off we asked the coaches if they had any words for the girls and we sent them off with a good luck and we told them, "Team work makes the dream work!" I interviewed 3 teams and then I did single interviews with a few teams and parents.

The first team I interviewed up close was Dighton Rehoboth Falcons from the New England Region. I talked to them right after the stage interview. First I asked them if they had ever been to nationals before. They're actually the first team EVER to make it to nationals from their organization! Almost all of them have never even made it past conference before! This big accomplishment was made by a group of a very family- like team. They are a very confident group of girls with a lot of enthusiasm!

They practiced very long very often to perfect their routine and work out the flaws. They practiced at local gyms, on Black Friday, right before they went to the airport even! Imagine being the first team making it to nationals AND getting a trophy! But besides actually making it to the national championship, they had to fundraise. They worked for 4 weeks asking for donations and selling products until they raised enough- $18,000! The team is beyond excited and confident in their teammates. "Were all one big family" they all explained "We all believe in each other." Good luck Falcons!

The next team I interviewed was the Upper Merion Vikings from the Eastern Region. I interviewed them while they were backstage, a few teams from going out on the floor. They were also the first team from their organization to make it to nationals! Because they were close to going on, they were very nervous. They try to push through the nerves so they perform at their best! They need to work very hard to perform their best. The pyramid makes them stand out, they explained.

The stunts are the hardest part but by far their favorite. They also fundraised by selling crispy cream, coffee, and asking for donations in a parking lot at a football game! Now that they have raised enough money, they want to stand out here at nationals, and what better way to do that than with something unique? They have glittery letter signs that spell out VIKINGS, which will be used in their cheer/stunts. Good luck to the Vikings!

The last interview I did was with Kari, a parent from the North Fort Myers Knights in the Southeast Region. She was extremely nervous but she knows they will do fantastic and is also very excited! So far, she didn't see any teams that intimidated her, for she is very confident in her daughter and her team! She knows that the team has that wow-factor, and is sure that they will blow the judges away. For all the girls, it is their first time at nationals.

They are all very excited, and hoping for the best. The hardest part of the routine is the turning pyramid, which is going to make them stand out. They also did fundraising at home football games, pan handling, collecting donations, and they also sold Brax Cups. The Knights are about to go on and the parents are ready, and I'm excited to see what they brought. Good luck Knights!

Who & What is the Spirit Promotions Team?

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Your Spirit Promotions Team is comprised of one to two individuals from each of the eight Regions. Their job? To ensure that each and every child has a magical experience at the National Championships, and to entertain you when your favorite team is not on the mat!

As the squads report to check for their warm up rotation just prior to performance time, the beginning of their journey is an on stage interview with either Cathy Fuller, the Spirit Promotions Lead or the Disney Reporter. Here the squads are asked questions about their experience thus far, and their hopes and expectations for their performance. To end their interview, each and every squad will perform their favorite chant or cheer to WOW the crowd inside and get themselves ready to go!

Meanwhile, on the inside, your Spirit Promotions Team are hard at work. Possibly playing games on the main floor during breaks, giving a chance for those Moms and Dads to come down on the floor and show their stuff, to getting designated teams ready for the Team Cheer Fashion Show. You will also see us working with the Spirit Leaders/dancers during breaks when DJ Chris breaks out the crowd participation music!

New this year is the Jr. Reporter! Participants or Jr. Coaches were chosen from applications submitted to report to you for a session. You will find the Jr. Reporter maybe interviewing teams on stage, or following a team throughout their entire journey form warm up to performance.

From the Promotions Team, we would like to wish each and every team the best of Luck this week at the National Championship. Leave it all out on the floor. And no matter what happens, HAVE PRIDE IN YOUR HEART!!

Pop Warner Cheerleading Familiar Face That's Always Smiling

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Monday, December 9, 2013

There is a warm familiar face that is a constant at the National Championship. She has done it all....Cheeleading coach, Association coordinator, League Coordinator.

She also is the face behind the Promotions team at the National Champonships. Cathy Fuller from the Eastern Region, a Jersey girl as she calls herself, coordinates the games, sideline dances, fashion shows, etc. Her most visible contribution...The interviews!

Cathy is that fun loving, cheerful voice that will interview a good majority of the teams just prior to moving into the practice area. My most favorite this about her interviews you ask? It has to be how she ends each and every interview teling the teams "Put a smile on your lips, and pride in your heart. It takes Teamwork to make the Dream work."

As a cheerleader, Cathy grew up in the Jersey Shore League. She cheered for the St. Joseph Angels, or as they are better known as today, the Tom's River Angels. In 1984, she began her coaching career as a coach for the Angels. Her skills and accomplishments quickly boosted her to the President of the Angels.

She is currently the Coach of Monsignor Donavon's cheerleading team where she continues to instruct young athletes and make them into top-notch cheerleaders.

As a Commissioner for the Jersey Shore League, Cathy says that the best part of her job is, "watching the kids come off the floor with a smile on their faces, knowing in their hearts that they did the best they could." With over 5000 girls in 36 organizations that Cathy represents and works to promote, that is a lot of smiles!

Cathy takes her job as Commissioner as a serious full year commitment. She is responsible for the daily operations of the cheer and dance programs of the Jersey Shore League. She contributes to the coaches by sponsoring and hosting numerous educational services, safety, sports psychology training and numerous other resources for coaches.

Cathy shared with Cheer NJ her philosophy on coaching and cheerleading. "[Cheerleading is] not about winning a trophy, the trophy is an added extra. The cheerleaders should go to compete, do their best and have pride in their hearts."

Cathy believes that one has to have fun in their life and it starts here!

Jr. Reporter - Monday Afternoon, December 9, 2013

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Monday, December 9, 2013

Haven Greenfield is our afternoon Jr Reporter from Austin Texas. She is part of the Four Points Pop Warner Cheer Team. Haven attended the National Championships last year and her team placed 7th.

They are back this year hoping to place top 5. "We really want to hear our name this year".

Hi, I'm Haven Greenfield, I am from Austin Texas, and I love cheer. I have been picked as a junior reporter and I got to do many things.

The first thing I did was interview a few teams on the stage before they went in to warm up and ask them some questions.

Then I got to interview a cheer team in the stands. Their team name was the Cape Jr. Cudas. I asked them what the most favorite part of their routine was. And like almost every team: The dance.

The team placed first at their regional competition last weekend. They had two teams from their association win National titles last year. This year they have all four of their teams here at the Championship.

After that I had the opportunity to go into the ESPN control center and see all of the technical pieces of broadcasting both cheer and football.

This Thursday will be the first live broadcast for Pop Warner Cheerleading on ESPN3, when the PW4 teams will take the floor Thursday afternoon from 5-8.

Oh Look How We've Grown!

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Monday, December 9, 2013

If you are new to Pop Warner Cheerleading, you can simply not appreciate how far the program has grown since its inception. In 1988, the first Pop Warner National Cheer Championships took place in Georgia.

At that time, there were simply four divisions; Jr. Pee Wee, Pee Wee, Jr. Midget and Midget. All teams in a specific age group, regardless of size or experience, competed against one another for the title of National Champion. That year the Southeast Region captured three of the four titles, and Pacific Northwest, the fourth division champion.

In 1993, a new division was added to allow older participants to cheer with the Pop Warner program. This division was called "Senior", now is referred to as Bantam. This age group of this division was 15-18 year olds. This category continued to compete at the National Championships until 1998. There are still some Bantam teams today, but it is not a competitive level any longer.

In 1999, Pop Warner branched out to divide each age division into small and large categories. This allowed a more fair playing field for the smaller teams to have the opportunity to be more competitive.

Still with this modification, it did not give the teams with less experience the opportunity to advance. So, in 2004, the change to further divide each age group to Novice, Intermediate and Advanced was executed.

In 2011, a medium division was added to further even the team sizes in each category. A small team is 6-12 participants. A medium team, 13-24 participants and a large team is 25-35 participants.

In 2012, Pop Warner partnered with YCADA to create the divisions as they are today: PW1, PW2, PW3 AND PW4 in small, medium and large categories.

Pop Warner continue to grow to allow as many participants as possible the opportunity to have the experience of a lifetime!

Jr. Reporter - Monday, December 9, 2013

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Monday, December 9, 2013
Our next Jr. Reporter, is from the Mid South Region.

Danielle Smith has been a Pop Warner cheerleader since the age of 6. She has advanced to the National Championships 3 times with her teams. As well Danielle is scholarship recipient for Pop Warner Little Scholars. She is currently a Jr. Coach with the Jr. Midget squad from Apex Sports Authority in Raleigh, North Carolina.

My name is Danielle Smith and I am from the Mid South Region. I have cheered with Pop Warner for many years and this year I am a student demonstrator.

I was so excited when I got the opportunity to be a junior reporter at nationals! I had a chance to interview a team from California named the Santa Cruz Sea Lions. It's their first year here and surprisingly they said they were not nervous! In order to get here, like every other team, they had to fundraise.

They had told me that they sold candy and had a few bake sales. The Sea Lions are the only team from their association here in Disney World. They are all so excited to be here! The girls said that they have been to all of the parks here but Hollywood Studios was their favorite. The team also told me that their favorite Disney character was Minnie Mouse and their favorite princess was Cinderella.

On their competition day, I was so glad to join them behind the scenes. They were all nervous, but they said that they perform their best when they are nervous. When the time came, I got to watch them perform and they did awesome!

The True Meaning of Leadership

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Monday, December 8, 2013 (Courtesy of the Mid-South Region)

My daughter Kylei Gartin is 9 years old and in the 4th grade at West View Elementary School in Garner, NC, where she is on the AB honor roll. This is her first year cheering and she has really found one thing that interests her and her abilities.

She was born with a debilitating disease called Spina Bifida a rather commonneural tube defect that usually causes nerve damage and some paralysis of the legs. Kylei has no feeling below the knees, hip dysplasia, hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain) and several other issues that you cannot see on the outside.

It has been a long road for her but this year she was determined to do something that would challenge her disability. I am so glad that they allowed her to participate on a regular Pop Warner Cheer team because she really loves cheering even though she is in a wheelchair and walks with crutches, it does not stop what she can do!

Our team has competed in two cheer competitions and we won first place in both! Kylei knows that through Pop Warner Cheer she can show other girls that you can do anything that you put your mind to.

This has been a life changing year and she knows that now her passion is Cheerleading! Why?

Because she is a leader no matter if she sits or stands!
Fight Like a Rock Starr!

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Saturday, December 7, 2013

All kids have bumps and bruises, aches and pains. Especially active kids.

So when 8 year old Annabelle complained about a backache to mom, Brandy, she thought it was possibly a pulled muscle. A short time later at her doctor appointment in July for her cheerleading physical, Annabelle was still complaining of a backache.

She was diagnosed with a UTI (Urinary tract infection) and given antibiotics. Her symptoms did get better, but a couple weeks later, the backache returned and she was retreated with antibiotics.

A couple of days later Annabelle woke up in the morning in a great deal of pain. So off to the emergency room they went. That is when everything changed. Blood work revealed every parent's worst nightmare. Annabelle was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).

Annabelle was diagnosed with ALL on July 17 and began her first chemo treatment the very next day. Annabelle is a member of the Cape Jr. Cudas JPW Large PW2 team from Cape Coral Florida.

In the beginning of her treatment, Annabelle was able to participate with her team, all be it, with limitations. This was her second year with Cape Jr. Her team performed in the Mighty Mite exhibition last year at the National Event, its inaugural year.

Annabelle was able to attend the local Peace River Championships where her team advanced to the Regional event. Due to her treatment, Annabelle was not able to attend the Regional event. Although, one of her teammates are wearing her bloomers!

There has been tremendous support for Annabelle from across the country. She has her own facebook page "FIGHT LIKE A ROCK STARR"

Annabelle has just two words for any other kids battling cancer…"KEEP FIGHTING!"

And to her Cape Jr teammates performing on Monday, she would like to say "KEEP WORKING HARD!" Although she can't be here in person to support them due to her treatments, she will be watching them in the Pop Warner On-Demand Video Player.

Jr. Reporter Olivia Hellmund Shares Her Experiences

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Saturday, December 7, 2013

Our very first Jr. Reporter is Olivia Hellmund from Austin Texas...

"Hi, I'm Olivia Hellmund. I am from Four Points Pop Warner PW3 Cheer Team from Austin Texas.

Today I got to talk to the Munster Colts Mitey Mite team from Indiana. They were very excited to be performing in Orlando Florida for Nationals. A lot of them have been cheering since they were five years old and only one of the girls has never been to Disney before. They sold Butter Braids for their fundraiser and they said they had so much fun doing it. They have all been to atleast one Disney Park and were thrilled to be in the happiest place on Earth.

The favorite part of their routine was their dance, they all agreed "it looks really cool." They also like to stunt and throw their baskets. Their favorite stunt is their extension.

I had the opportunity to follow the team from their first interview on the stage and into the warm up mats. In warm up they practiced their tumbling, lots of forward rolls and back walkovers. They practiced being louder and did their routine three or four times. I then got to sit with the coaches while the team performed. The coaches were very happy with the team's performance! The girls love to do their cheer faces and were very happy to demonstrate them to me.

The Colts will be in Orlando until Tuesday, and will be going to Disney as a team.

The second team I got to interview was the Lansdale Cannoneers from Pennsylvania. For their fundraiser they went to Pump It Up and tagged for money. They were super excited to be here at Disney.

Their favorite part about competing was being in Orlando with their friends and showing the judges what they can do. Their favorite stunts are shoulder sits, and their favorite tumbling, is one handed cartwheels. The team has been to Epcot and Magic Kingdom, and their favorite ride was Space Mountain.

The girls love their music as it is from Pitch Perfect.

Welcome to the 2013 Pop Warner National Championships!

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Saturday, December 7, 2013

Good Morning Pop Warner Cheer and Dance Fans! Welcome to the 2013 National Cheer and Dance Championships!!!

Today is the opening event for our Championships, and we start off with the Mitey Mite Exhibitions!! I am Kelly, your Promotions Team Representative and will guide you through this amazing week.

We have some new aditions this year that we hope you will enjoy. For the first time, Jr. Reporters will interact with the teams and have the opportunity to contribute to the blog.

These young ladies are chosen applicants submitted by their regions and are either participants or Jr. Coaches/Student Demonstrators participating in the Championships. We are excited to see the event from their perspective.

For the second year, Mitey Mites Cheer teams have been invited from around the country to exhibit at the National Event. Six of the eight regions are represented today from California to Florida to New York. The teams are able to have a similar experience as the competitve teams, with an added bonus of a Mitey Mite Party at the end of the day with special Disney Guests. These young athletes are the future of our program; tomorrow's stars.

Also new this year will be the Spirit Leader/Dancers. Teams have been chosen to participate to lead with crowd involvement activities during breaks to get the audience up off thier feet!!

Favorite returns this year.... Floor Games, including the football toss, Dad's Relay and Lets Make a Deal. As well as the Team Cheer Fashion Show.

Tune in often and stay posted for photos and more blogs.

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