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CHEER & DANCE REGION SPOTLIGHT:
Friday Session:

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Friday, December 11
REGION: SOUTHEAST
TEAM: HAGARTY HUSKIES
The Hagarty Huskies from the Mid Florida League have advanced many teams in the past to the National Event.  But for Coach Carlo Scorpio, this is his first time.  As a matter of fact, this is his first year as a cheerleading coach! Coach Carlo has had all three daughters grow up in the Hagarty program, so dealing with girls has not been an issue.  But admits, “The cheer industry has changed a lot since I cheered in college at Daytona State.”  This is a family affair for Coach Carlo.  His wife is an assistant coach, his two older daughters are assistant coaches and do the choreography and the youngest daughter is a member of the team.  When asked how his first coaching experience has been, Carlo responds, “Some days it is stressful, some days it is happy, we just take one day at a time!”  Thank you Coach Carlo!

REGION: EASTERN
TEAM: ISELIN GIANTS
The Iselin Giants made the trip to Disney all the way from Central New Jersey. These 12 girls who proudly wear the Orange, Black and White, have come from a long family of Giant tradition. The girls describe their team as a hard working family who knows how to have fun! Last night to prepare, coaches dressed up as sumo wrestlers and the girls had a Cheer Idol where they sang and dance to their favorite songs. This is not their first time to Nationals but they make sure every trip has a memory that will last a lifetime. Before the girls hit the mat, they have in the back of their minds their coaches famous words, slow down and breathe! The Giants rocked the mat this morning and made the Iselin organization proud. Awesome job ladies, I church you!!!

REGION: EASTERN
TEAM: RIVERSIDE BULLDOGS
The Riverside Bulldogs came to see Mickey Mouse all the way from the New Jersey area. The team is lead by coach Valerie who has been building team unity for the past several years.  Her and her mother have coached almost every single team member in the past including 4 of their coaches.  The Bulldog team has been gunning for the National title since last year at Regionals when they did not advance to the national event. This year’s theme is Go Hard or Go Home! This warrior crew knew that if they hit their routine their dream of a National Title can come true! When we asked the team members how they would describe themselves they said we are “a FAMILY, ONE UNIT!!” When they aren’t practicing they are making beats, chatting in text and creating secret handshakes. The Bulldogs rocked the house this afternoon with an action packed and energy filled routine. Great job today Ladies and Gent, you did an amazing job!! You made the Eastern Region proud!

REGION: MID-AMERICA
TEAM: ALGONQUIN ARGONAUTS
The Algonquin Argonauts have worked hard all season long with struggles of tumbling timing and stunting. Their Head Coach Vicki has been to the national event three times before with five of her girls from this team. They have five girls who are all American scholars this year from the team. The girls told me there favorite thing about their routine was there pyramid and their dance and they couldn’t wait to show me how they do it. Good luck to the Algonquin Argonauts Jr. Midget team.

REGION: MID-AMERICA
TEAM: LAPORTE SLICERS
The LaPorte Slicers Jr. Midget team is here at the Pop Warner National Cheer Competition with 12 girls. The Head Coach Eileen Matzke has been coaching for 9 years along with her assistant Coach Candice Rompa. They have been here before, and their goal is to place in the top five this year. They have had many struggles with having a girl who is autistic but you would never know it with how well she performs with her team. The girls told me there favorite thing about their routine was the basket tosses and their jumps. Good luck to them and Go Slicers!!!!

REGION:  SOUTHWEST
TEAM: NORTHEAST VIKINGS
Our Day 5 Spotlight team representing the Southwest Region is the Northeast Vikings from San Antonio, Texas.
Long time Pop Warner Coach, Lori Stokes-Amick is no stranger to the National Championships.  Her teams have numerous top 5 placements and a multitude of Spirit of Sport Awards and nominations.
Many members of this Jr. midget squad have been together for several years and simply enjoy working together.  Since the Viking Association has a tradition of community service and family, it's no wonder they are so close.
Northeast Viking cheerleaders historically have great success with their local High School squads due to the training and experience they receive in Pop Warner.  Congratulations Vikings on your awesome performance today!

REGION: WESCON
TEAM: TEMECULA VALLEY MIGHTY GRIZZLIES
Wescon’s 1st Spotlight Team of the Day is the Temecula Valley Mighty Grizzlies.  Head coach Monica Perches has been coaching in the program for nine years and has coached at every level during her span.  She has coached this Jr. Midget PW2 Small team since they were Mitey Mites.  They have 12 girls on the team and all but 2 are returners.  This is the team’s first year at Nationals but Monica has been her twice before.  Her daughter’s went through the program and she loves that they are now giving back by volunteering as student demos.  Her favorite part of the routine is the pyramid where the music just fits it perfectly.  These girls and their entire association has become her extended family and that is what she loves the most!

REGION: PACIFIC NORTHWEST
TEAM: ALMADEN MUSTANGS
The Almaden Mustangs are the Pacific Northwest Region Spotlight Team of the day. They come to us from San Jose, California which is a part of Peninsula Pop Warner. Attending the National event this year is a new process to most of the athletes on this Jr. Midget team. This team has worked extremely hard this season despite having team members drop from the team in August which brought the team count down to 13 athletes. When asked what made their routine different than anyone else’s the athletes said, “We’re small but CRAZY! And because WE are in the routine!” Great performance today ladies! You rocked it!

REGION: NEW ENGLAND
TEAM: BARRINGTON EAGLES
The Barrington Eagles are the New England Region Spotlight Team from the Rhode Island Southern Massachusetts Pop Warner league. Most of the athletes on this Midget team have been to the National event before but this year is special. After this season 12 athletes will be aging out of Pop Warner and they are looking to end this season with a bang! Their focus has been on always making memories, and their motto – “We don’t remember the days. We remember the moments”. When asking the older teammates about what advice they would give to new and returning athletes their responses were, “Welcome new people, form a team bond, and make the best of every moment!” Couldn’t haven’t said it better myself! Great job ladies!

REGION: NEW ENGLAND
TEAM:  BLACKSTONE VALLEY PATRIOTS
The Blackstone Valley Patriots are the New England Region Spotlight Team from Central Massachusetts Pop Warner. This is the second year in a row that this team has attended the National event! After placing 2nd last year, they have worked really hard to improve their skills this season. Their biggest struggle this season has been to enhance their routine while incorporating new energy, and attitude. All of their hard work was put to the test today and they succeeded with an amazing performance. Way to Patriots!

REGION: WESCON
TEAM: BREA WILDCATS
Wescon’s 2nd Spotlight Team of the Day is the Brea Wildcats Midget PW2 Small.  Their head coach Kirsten West has been coaching for eight years since the Mitey Mite level.  They have 11 girls of which eight are all brand new to cheer.  This is the team’s first time at Nationals, but Monica has been four times with one team placing 3rd.  At the Midget level having almost all brand new girls presents the challenge of beginning from the basics.  “You’ve got to teach them everything while still making sure the few returners get to learn new skills as well.  Her favorite part of competing and this National experience is just watching the girls experience it all and the love they have for the sport and each other.  It gives her goose bumps!
Thursday Session:

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Thursday, December 10
REGION:  NEW ENGLAND
TEAM: EDGEWOOD EAGLES
The Edgewood Eagles are the New England Spotlight Team of the day! They come to us from Ocean State Pop Warner.  This is definitely not the first time these athletes have competed at the National event with this year being the sixth year for some! This year was different than any other as they pushed the envelope and decided to declare Level 4! They have strived all season long for perfection and have had to develop a family dynamic when most of the athletes on this team were on different teams last year. To say they have succeeded would be an understatement! With the huge amount of support from the large and diverse coaching staff as well as the enthusiastic family members this team has come a long way to prove themselves at Nationals. Coach Kristina has one piece of advice to her team including the eleven athletes that will age out of Pop Warner this year, “Never stop believing!!!” Edgewood had a phenomenal performance today! Way to go! We are EDGEWOOD!

REGION:  EASTERN
TEAM: FLEMINGTON FLACONS
The Fleming Falcons brought their large PW 4 team all the way from NJ. This team has been building a legacy together over the past 6 years. They bring with them twenty 8th graders and two 9th graders who performed as Falcons for the last time this year. What makes these Falcons so great you ask? Their dedication, team work and support they have provided each other throughout the season. Not to mention the tons of superstitions that the coaching staff have. They sit in the same order at every competition, wear the same clothes, and find lucky charms at every competition they have attended. The theme for this year was “Don’t stop believing”! You can tell from the moment that this team hit the practice mat they had each and every person’s back on the floor. They believed that if they nailed this routine, this was the year the Falcons will be taking home the title! Great job Falcons you made the Eastern Region Proud!

REGION:  WESCON
TEAM: RANCHO BERNARDO BRONCOS
The Broncos are coached by Renee Wiggins who is also the Association Cheer and Dance Coordinator.  They are a Jr. Midget PW4 Small team.  Renee has been coaching in the Pop Warner Program for the past four years.  This is her first time at Nationals but 14 of her girls attended Nationals last year.  They have 25 girls on their squad but only 22 were able to come to Florida.  The coach combined last year’s Pee Wee and Midget teams to make one team this year.

The biggest challenge for Renee was combining the two teams and making them into a cohesive team.  On the positive side each group brought their own strengths and unique talents that enabled her to do new things with her choreography.   Renee starts preparing for her routine in July/August but is open to compromise and she sees how the team picks up the moves and stunts. Her favorite part of this year’s routine is the dance portion at the end.  She just loves how the girls perform it with great energy!  Before each competition they get together and she gives them a quick pep talk letting them know that their place at awards does not matter as long as they give it their best on the floor!

REGION:  SOUTHEAST
TEAM: PALM HARBOR PANTHERS
Coach Leah Roberts of the Midget Palm Harbor Panthers is no stranger to cheerleading.  She has coached with the Palm Harbor Panthers in the Greater Foundation For Youth League for ten years.  She has had the pleasure of coaching this particular group of girls for the last four years.  Most of this team has been together for at least four years and have participated in both traditional and year round together.  The team competed in the PW4 division last year and placed 4th at the National Event.  They return this year with the theme “Silver wants Gold” as they are the “Silver Panthers."

Coach Roberts believes her tumbling and pyramids are strong and unique and separate her from the other teams. 
The Silver Panthers had a great performance and as the only Southeast PW4 team, have made the Southeast Region very proud!.  The best part of this team…They can all return next year!  Good Luck Panthers!

REGION:  MID-AMERICA
TEAM: INDEPENDENCE BEARS
Regional Spotlight team of the day was Mid America’s Independence Bears PW4 Midget Small. Head Coach Michelle Clemons has been coaching for 18 years.  She’s had 9 appearances at nationals along with 7 top 5 finishes and 3- 1st Place National Championships.  She has been the Cheer Coordinator for Independence and is also the League coordinator for Heart of America.  She has made the difficult decision to retire from coaching and as the Cheer Coordinator for Independence.  Along with Michelle her coaching staff, who has been with her the majority of her years, has also decided to retire with her.  

As a midget team, to say goodbye to your coaches is one thing, but this is the final year of Pop Warner for the cheerleaders as well.  These girls, with a few additions, have been together for 5 years and won their first national title as Jr. Pee Wees.  They are a very close group of girls whose love of cheer, Pop Warner and their Pop Warner family just exudes from them.  When asked why anyone should do Pop Warner they all responded with “it’s amazing”, “amazing bonds”, “family”, “Pop Warner brings people together."

The girls would like their coaches to know they love and appreciate them.  The time and dedication they’ve given them over the years is greatly appreciated.  They could never have done any of this without them.  The coaches would also like the girls to know they love and appreciate them too.  It’s not the end; this just begins a new chapter.  Stay true to yourselves.  It’s been an honor and a blessing being able to be your coach.  #bearstrong
Wednesday PM Session:

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Wednesday, December 9
REGION:  NEW ENGLAND
TEAM: EDGEWOOD EAGLES
The Edgewood Eagles are the New England Spotlight Team of the day! They come to us from Ocean State Pop Warner.  This is definitely not the first time these athletes have competed at the National event with this year being the sixth year for some! This year was different than any other as they pushed the envelope and decided to declare Level 4! They have strived all season long for perfection and have had to develop a family dynamic when most of the athletes on this team were on different teams last year. To say they have succeeded would be an understatement! With the huge amount of support from the large and diverse coaching staff as well as the enthusiastic family members this team has come a long way to prove themselves at Nationals. Coach Kristina has one piece of advice to her team including the eleven athletes that will age out of Pop Warner this year, “Never stop believing!!!” Edgewood had a phenomenal performance today! Way to go! We are EDGEWOOD!

REGION:  EASTERN
TEAM: FLEMINGTON FLACONS
The Fleming Falcons brought their large PW 4 team all the way from NJ. This team has been building a legacy together over the past 6 years. They bring with them twenty 8th graders and two 9th graders who performed as Falcons for the last time this year. What makes these Falcons so great you ask? Their dedication, team work and support they have provided each other throughout the season. Not to mention the tons of superstitions that the coaching staff have. They sit in the same order at every competition, wear the same clothes, and find lucky charms at every competition they have attended. The theme for this year was “Don’t stop believing”! You can tell from the moment that this team hit the practice mat they had each and every person’s back on the floor. They believed that if they nailed this routine, this was the year the Falcons will be taking home the title! Great job Falcons you made the Eastern Region Proud!

REGION:  WESCON
TEAM: RANCHO BERNARDO BRONCOS
The Broncos are coached by Renee Wiggins who is also the Association Cheer and Dance Coordinator.  They are a Jr. Midget PW4 Small team.  Renee has been coaching in the Pop Warner Program for the past four years.  This is her first time at Nationals but 14 of her girls attended Nationals last year.  They have 25 girls on their squad but only 22 were able to come to Florida.  The coach combined last year’s Pee Wee and Midget teams to make one team this year.

The biggest challenge for Renee was combining the two teams and making them into a cohesive team.  On the positive side each group brought their own strengths and unique talents that enabled her to do new things with her choreography.   Renee starts preparing for her routine in July/August but is open to compromise and she sees how the team picks up the moves and stunts. Her favorite part of this year’s routine is the dance portion at the end.  She just loves how the girls perform it with great energy!  Before each competition they get together and she gives them a quick pep talk letting them know that their place at awards does not matter as long as they give it their best on the floor!

REGION:  SOUTHEAST
TEAM: PALM HARBOR PANTHERS
Coach Leah Roberts of the Midget Palm Harbor Panthers is no stranger to cheerleading.  She has coached with the Palm Harbor Panthers in the Greater Foundation For Youth League for ten years.  She has had the pleasure of coaching this particular group of girls for the last four years.  Most of this team has been together for at least four years and have participated in both traditional and year round together.  The team competed in the PW4 division last year and placed 4th at the National Event.  They return this year with the theme “Silver wants Gold” as they are the “Silver Panthers."

Coach Roberts believes her tumbling and pyramids are strong and unique and separate her from the other teams. 
The Silver Panthers had a great performance and as the only Southeast PW4 team, have made the Southeast Region very proud!.  The best part of this team…They can all return next year!  Good Luck Panthers!

REGION:  MID-AMERICA
TEAM: INDEPENDENCE BEARS
Regional Spotlight team of the day was Mid America’s Independence Bears PW4 Midget Small. Head Coach Michelle Clemons has been coaching for 18 years.  She’s had 9 appearances at nationals along with 7 top 5 finishes and 3- 1st Place National Championships.  She has been the Cheer Coordinator for Independence and is also the League coordinator for Heart of America.  She has made the difficult decision to retire from coaching and as the Cheer Coordinator for Independence.  Along with Michelle her coaching staff, who has been with her the majority of her years, has also decided to retire with her.  

As a midget team, to say goodbye to your coaches is one thing, but this is the final year of Pop Warner for the cheerleaders as well.  These girls, with a few additions, have been together for 5 years and won their first national title as Jr. Pee Wees.  They are a very close group of girls whose love of cheer, Pop Warner and their Pop Warner family just exudes from them.  When asked why anyone should do Pop Warner they all responded with “it’s amazing”, “amazing bonds”, “family”, “Pop Warner brings people together."

The girls would like their coaches to know they love and appreciate them.  The time and dedication they’ve given them over the years is greatly appreciated.  They could never have done any of this without them.  The coaches would also like the girls to know they love and appreciate them too.  It’s not the end; this just begins a new chapter.  Stay true to yourselves.  It’s been an honor and a blessing being able to be your coach.  #bearstrong
Tuesday PM Session:

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Tuesday, December 9
REGION: SOUTHWEST
TEAM: COLORADO SPRINGS WARDOGS
This Colorado spirit squad is thrilled to make a return visit to the National Championships as a Jr Midget team.   Heavily involved in their community, this squad has a focus on giving back.  We should note this team cheered on their football team in their semi-final football game making it to check-in with only a few minutes to spare. This Association truly supports each other. 

Testament to this fact was the two football teams that filled the family viewing area during their performance. Prior to their games, events, and competitions, Coach Kayla and Coach Andrew lead their team in “I Believe”, a chant that reminds them to believe in themselves and their ability.  ACDC Sarah said, “These girls have so much determination and are willing to work hard; we BELIEVE in them 100%!” Congratulations Wardogs on an awesome performance!

REGION: EASTERN
TEAM: FALLSBURG COMETS
For the third year in a row, the Fallsburg Comets are back at Nationals.  With 6 returning girls and 12 girls that moved up from Jr. Pee Wee, you would never know that this is the first year this team has competed together.   The coaching staff includes President Coach Lewis who attends every practice.  He has traveled with the team the past three years they have been to Nationals.

Coach Kierra is the first to say that the team comes alive when they hit the mat. “They aren’t perky until they get on that floor.” Coach Tom and Coach Rebecca put everything they have into this team and love coaching these girls, one of which is their daughter.  Coach Andrea, the Head Coach, says that when the girls perform and do their triple jumps she feels it’s the most difficult part of their routine.  Coach Andrea has been coaching some of these girls since they were 6 and 7 years old. The coaches all breathe a sigh of relief when the girls hit the beginning of their dance and they are almost done. 

They are hoping that 3rd time’s a charm with their philosophy and chant “pray together – stay together”.

REGION: MID-AMERICA
TEAM: FORT OSAGE INDIANS
The Regional Spotlight team of the day was Mid America’s Fort Osage Indians.   Head Coach Ryan Rosario has been coaching for 5 years and this is her and the teams’ 2nd appearance at the national championships.

Coach Ryan states this year is special and bittersweet at the same time.  This will be Coach Ryan’s final year of coaching and the girls last year participating as they all age out after this season.  She considers this team a very unique group.  The bonds and friendships they’ve built are like nothing she’s ever seen before. The hard work and dedication they bring is so amazing.  They are a very special group of girls.  When asking the girls what they would tell others as to why they should join Pop Warner their responses were “ Lifelong friendships, amazing experiences and so much fun.”

REGION: NEW ENGLAND
TEAM: RANDOLPH-HOLBROOKBLUE DEVILS
Your Tuesday New England Region Spotlight Team is the Randolph-Holbrook Blue Devils from Hockomock Pop Warner.  This Jr. Midget team started the season with half the squad of the athletes brand new to the sport of cheerleading! These girls, along with their coaching staff, have strived for perfection all season long. With parts of their routine constantly changing, the girls have learned that practice makes perfect. This is the team’s first appearance at the National event and they couldn’t be more humbled for this experience! Their words of wisdom for all teams are, “A smile can make or break your routine!” Great job Blue Devils!

REGION: PACIFIC NORTHWEST
TEAM: HOLLISTER VIKINGS
Coach Karen Franco is proud of her team and fellow coaches. This junior midget team started the season with a mixed group of experience. Some have been cheering for as long as 6 years and some are new to the sport. The plan was to "work for the dream" and the work has paid off. "The Best in the West" left the mat feeling good about what they did and their coaches couldn't have been happier.  Their final performance of the season was the best they had ever done! The smiles and tears of joy after a great performance proved that the Vikings will "knock you off your feet" Go Vikings!

REGION: WESCON
TEAM: CHINO COLTS
The Chino Colts Midget team is coached by Chandra Alton.  Chandra has been coaching in the Pop Warner Program since 2005.  This is her first year with this team.  Her daughter has graduated out of the program but she remained coaching in the program since she loves it so much.  They are a team of 10 with all but two returning cheerleaders.  All 10 girls were able to travel to Orlando. 
Chandra starts preparing for her routine in the spring.  She likes to have her music picked out before practice begins in August so that while she is watching the girls she can start putting the stunt sequences together as she determines the skill level of her squad.  The biggest challenge for Chandra this year was keeping her girls focused and progressing. 

Her favorite part of their routine was the opening tumbling pass with walkovers and cartwheels.  She felt the girls are really strong in this area and was excited to highlight those skills.  This is the squad first  time competing for the National title but coach Chandra has been her four other times placing as high as 4th place.  They are really enjoying the energy and excitement of performing on the National stage!
Tuesday AM Session:

Pop Warner Spirit Promotions Team - Tuesday, December 9

REGION: SOUTHWEST
TEAM: NORTHWEST RAIDERS
The beginning of the season, this team found themselves with a squad of girls and no coaching staff.  Maribel Meza, the Cheer Coordinator at the time, stepped in to take the team.  She quickly enlisted the help of her daughter, a former Raider cheerleader, and new Pop Warner volunteer Leighann Cantu.  Supporting their team during the season and working so hard towards competition, they soon found themselves in another quandary; after the League Championship they lost half the squad.   Not afraid of the challenge - they went back to work.  The result…qualifying for the National Championship! The girls are so excited and had a wonderful performance today.  The Coaches are very proud and thankful for the many teachable moments this season.  The team persevered, worked hard and proved they could do it!  Congratulations Northwest Raiders on a super successful season!

REGION: WESCON
TEAM: REDONDO BEACH SEAHAWKS
This Pee Wee PW1 Small team is coached by Jen Divish.  Jen has been coaching in the Pop Warner Program for the past four years.  Having a squad of almost completely brand new cheerleaders and having to go back to the beginning to teach the basic fundamentals and everything about cheer was probably the biggest challenge for Jen this year.  When asked Jen how early she generally starts preparing her routine, she said that she is already thinking about next year’s routine!  She watches videos, other competitions, etc. to get ideas.  She loves the new Pop Warner/YCADA website as well as the Coaches Clinic put on Friday night by Jamz the night before camp.  Jen’s favorite part of their routine was the shoulder sit to extension prep to a cradle stunt sequence.  This is their first appearance at the National Championships and having only two weeks to make the adjustments to their routine after placing 2nd at the Regional event after losing four girls was definitely a challenge.  But the girls are all having a great time and making memories that will last a lifetime!

REGION: SOUTHEAST
TEAM: NORTH FORT MYERS JPW KNIGHTS
The North Fort Myers Jr. Pee Wee Knights from Peace River Conference is your Southeast Spotlight team for today.  Under the direction of Head Coach Jen Hardman, this team was last year’s National Champion.  Although only four of last year’s girls returned, and there are four brand new girls to this team, Coach Jen says this team has done incredibly well.  This is her third year coaching at the JPW level.  “Our association prefers to keep coaches at the same level and not necessarily move up with the same group of girls.  An opportunity opened where Jen could have moved to the Pee Wee level, but she chose to stay where she was.” says Cricket Kelly, the association cheer coordinator. When asked if there is pressure as a returning National Champion, Coach Jen quickly responds “Yes!, But I compete against the score sheet.  I sit down with each category and make sure I maximize every caption.”  “I think our stunting sets us apart from the other teams and our theme. The last four years I have chosen a kids movie themes, this year is Lego.  I don’t think anyone else will have that!” The team placed first at the local Peace River competition and tied for second at the Regional.  Good Luck North Fort Myers!  Way to represent the Southeast!

REGION: NEW ENGLAND
TEAM: WINCHESTER SACHEMS
This Pee Wee team has arrived at this year’s National event with one thing in mind, the gold! After an extremely narrow 2nd place finish at last year’s National event these girls have worked day-in and day-out to improve themselves. All cheerleaders on this team are multi-season athlete’s that decided to commit all their energy into being the best cheerleader they could be for this season! Coach Tia with the help of the remaining coaching staff makes sure to give this team their all; whether it be constantly reviewing score sheets for improvement points, or having new and innovative ideas come to them at all hours of the day and night! This team has strived for this final moment and can’t wait to give it their all! As their time together before hitting the floor comes to a close the team gathers in their promise circle to commit to their teammates and finish with the Cheerleader’s Prayer. Each cheerleader makes a promise to the rest of their team prior to taking the mat, “I will fight for my stunts! I will stay confident no matter what!” And while on the competition floor each cheerleader works their hardest to keep those promises! Way to go Winchester Sachems! #wecame2win ! 

REGION: MID-AMERICA
TEAM: BENSENVILLE BANDITS
The team is coached by Ciuinal Lewis and this is the Bandits 2nd appearance at the Pop Warner National Championships.  Coach Lewis was their team mom last year but took on the Head Coach role when the previous year’s coach moved up to another division. She wanted to keep her returning coaches and girls together since they had such a successful season last year.  She attributes much of their success to her assistant coaches Triana, Daria and Nina.  All three were high school cheerleaders and one is currently cheering in college.  She is very thankful for them and they are so great with the girls. As a coaching staff they focus  on fundamentals and motivating the girls.  Creating the routine was actually very simple in their opinion, by following and maximizing the score sheets.  They used portions of the routines they had performed in the past as cheerleaders and modified it to meet those requirements.  Today was their best performance all season.  The girls loved the pyramid and the dance was their favorite part with all the fast moves and formation changes. 

REGION: EASTERN
TEAM: HOWELL JPW LIONS
The Howell Lions are no strangers to performing at Pop Warner Nationals, but for this Jr. Pee Wee Level 1 team, it is their very first time together as a competitive team.  According to Coach Dawn aka “Slim” they have four brand new girls on their team of 12, which have never cheered or even competed before. “We’ve had a rough year” says Coach Dawn.  Before each competition, the coaches had to rework their routine. Once for a girl who couldn’t be on the team anymore and then two more times for a cheerleader who got injured and then was able to come back.  Somehow they came together and got it done. Even though this Howell Lions team is new, the traditions they have created so far are ones they definitely will carry with them in the years to come. Before each competition the families get together and enjoy a “pasta hair party”.  At these parties Coach Heather and Coach Dawn get the girls blue, gold and white balloons.  The girls make a wish and release the balloons into the air.  Last night before the girls went to sleep; they wrote wishes on a piece of paper and put the wishes in their pillows.  Their theme of “Don’t Stop Believing” is one that has taken them to a place they started wishing for when they all came together in August.  Maybe it’s the stuffed lion that Coach Dawn carries around that is also good luck, but whatever it is, this Lion Team is one to be proud of. 

REGION: PACIFIC NORTHWEST
TEAM: MORGAN HILL
The Morgan Hill Raiders Junior Pee Wee team have a tendency to get what they want. This is a first time experience for all but one on this team of 18, and for many, their first year on a competitive team.  They won't let that get to them.  They want everyone to know they are here and have a goal.  They have a great support system starting with their coach Olga Clarke. She has been to nationals 4 times and knows what it takes.  The league LCDC has a daughter on the team and the Pacific Northwest RCDC also goes by the name of Grandma.  Coach Clarke feels confident that her team is in great hands including their student demonstrator, Leilah Clarke. She couldn't attend because of her academic responsibilities but is as "committed to the fight" from home.  They take the mat with the goal of hitting their routine, powering through the tough parts and leaving the mat feeling good about the experience. Way to achieve your goals Raiders!  Go Raiders!

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