Mickey Mouse Cheer House

A Recap of Cheer’s trip to Nationals at Disney World


Melani Rushing

The Twighlight Zone Tower of Terror in Disney World’s Hollywood Studios

Every year around February, the Universal Cheerleading Association holds the National High School Cheerleading Championships at Disney World’s ESPN Wide World Sports Complex. The Azle Cheer teams raise money every other year to go compete. There are multiple divisions separating teams into groups of small, medium or large, and all-girl or coed. On Feb. 13 the Azle Varsity and Junior Varsity Cheer and Hornet Muscle teams competed in the divisions Large Varsity Coed Gameday and Non-tumble Junior Varsity Gameday. Varsity took home fourth in the nation and JV took seventh. As a sophomore on the varsity team, this competition is my first of two.

Thursday, February 10: Travel Day

We all had to meet at the Dallas Love Field Airport by 5 a.m. I personally hated that because, for one, I live an hour away from the airport so I had to wake up at 3am, and two, travels days are always just very stressful, but on top of that we were a group of 47 students and 4 chaperones, so a lot of people that could be late or get lost. Luckily, that didn’t happen. We arrived at the Orlando International Airport at about 10 a.m. Then, once we got our bags, we rode a bus to the Disney resort, All Star Movies. Both teams had separate one-hour practices at the resort. Then, we all got ready for dinner at Disney Springs, a dining, entertainment and shopping center.

Friday, February 11: Disney Day

Our meet time to head to Magic Kingdom was at 7:30am and we entered the park around 8:20. The best thing at Magic Kingdom was by far Cinderella’s Castle. All the architecture of the buildings makes it feel like you’re actually walking through a fantasy Disney movie. My group and I tried to ride as many rides as we could in Magic Kingdom, but a few of my favorites were Space Mountain and Haunted Mansion. In Space Mountain, the cart is designed like a rocketship and it’s in the dark with small lights scattered everywhere to resemble stars. The Haunted Mansion is slower paced and it just takes you through a haunted house that has lots of special effects like lights, sounds and moving furniture. By 3 p.m., we had left Magic Kingdom to go to Hollywood Studios which has all of my absolute favorite rides. The famous Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock’n Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, Toy Story Land and all the Star Wars rides are all found in Hollywood. After a very long day, we got back to the resort at a little past midnight.

Saturday, February 12: Relax Day

There wasn’t much planned to do today other than each team having a two-hour practice, and then going to Disney Springs for dinner again. Thankfully varsity’s practice wasn’t until 1 p.m., so we finally got a decent night’s sleep after two days of barely anything. At practice, we only had to run full out through the entire 3 minute routine twice because everything hit, so Coach Hopkins let us go early to get ready for dinner. This time for dinner we made reservations at Maria and Enzo’s Italian Ristorante in Disney Springs. After everyone got done with dinner we went back to the resort and did a scavenger hunt. Coach gave us a list of things around the resort that we had to find and take pictures of within thirty minutes. After the time was up, all the groups came back to show what they had found and my group won with only missing one picture.

Avatar’s Pandora in Disney World’s Animal Kingdom (Melani Rushing)

Sunday, February 13: Competition Day

Varsity had to be ready to go to the Visa Athletic Center by 6:30 a.m., so everyone in my room woke up about 5:30-ish. At the Athletic Center, we had a twenty minute warmup time starting at 7:44 a.m., and then team check in at 8:14 a.m. After our months of practice, injuries, sweat and tears, our hard work had finally paid off when we performed at 8:44. Every stunt was solid and everyone’s energy was the highest it had ever been. Azle Varsity Cheer took home fourth in the nation! I feel so lucky to have been part of such a determined and passionate team. Junior Varsity didn’t perform until 1:44 p.m., so we got a break to rest and eat. It was so amazing to watch all the JV girls put on their best and final performance of this season. In the end, JV got seventh in the nation for Non-tumble Junior Varsity Gameday! Just before 3 p.m., we went back to the resort to change for the final day in the parks. My group first went to Animal Kingdom, my absolute favorite park out of them all just because the scenery is so beautiful. The first part of the kingdom we went to was the world of Pandora, from the movie Avatar. Everything there was so fascinating and it actually made me feel like I was in the real-world Pandora. After a few hours we went back to Magic Kingdom for the cheerleaders party night. For the party, there was a DJ right in front of the castle, and Magic Kingdom stayed open until 2 a.m. just for the cheerleaders and coaches to have a fun end to their competition day.

Monday, February 14: Going Back Home

After our late night, Monday morning we had to get out of our rooms by 11:00 a.m. Our plan was to head to the airport at 3:00pm so everyone just had to sit in the food court or by the pool until it was time to leave. We ate dinner at the airport. I had Chipotle, then we went to the gate and took off at 7:00 p.m. and finally arrived back home to the Dallas Love Field Airport at 9:30 p.m. Texas time.

I’m so grateful to have gotten to go on this trip with my favorite people and compete together doing the thing we love!