Edina Cheerleading heads to Nationals in Disney World

Ellen Mi, staff writer

From football games to prestigious competitions, the Edina Cheerleading Team is known for bringing their A-game to the stage. It’s no surprise that at this year’s National High School Cheerleading Championship in Orlando, Florida, Edina Cheer placed 12th in varsity and 10th in the junior varsity division.

At the competition, which spanned from Feb. 8 to Feb. 10, cheerleaders from around the country competed for the national title. “There were some local [teams], like Bloomington Jefferson and Prior Lake, but there were also teams from California and Massachusetts,” sophomore and varsity cheerleader Jena Manderscheid said.

Edina is a frequent competitor at the NHSCC, which has allowed cheerleaders to bond with teammates and increase their quality of performance. “We all get to go on a plane ride together, which is really fun as a team. We stay at Caribbean Beach Resort, and we all have roommates, so that’s really fun. We also get a park hopper, so we get to pick where we go during our free time,” junior and varsity cheerleader Shay Vogt said.

The Universal Cheerleaders Association, the host of the competition, purposely holds the competition near Disney World. “On Sunday night, they close down one of the parks – this year it was Magic Kingdom – and all the cheerleaders get to go on rides and it’s really fun,” Vogt said.

Teams at Nationals are expected to compete at a high caliber, which raises the stakes of the competition. “It’s really special because it’s like the ultimate goal in cheerleading. You have to go to UCA camp to even be eligible to get a bid, and then you have to get a bid to go to nationals, and so all the teams there are amazing,” Vogt said.

With the many requirements teams are assessed on during the competition, practices have been key for Edina cheerleaders. “There are a few sections in the routine – tumbling, stunting, jumps, dance, and pyramid – and within those sections, you’re graded on how high the difficulty of what you’re doing is and how well you execute it,” Manderscheid said.

The intensity of Nationals has forced cheerleaders to deal with long days and pre-round stress. “We had a lot of nerves, with just getting there and wanting to advance it made us really nervous. The day when we went from prelims to [semifinals] was a 20 hour day, and so we were all pretty exhausted. Luckily, semis was our best performance and that was after being awake for so long,” Vogt said.

Additionally, the team has carried on yearly traditions at Nationals by having a large-group discussion that unites the team. “We have candles and sit in a circle, and we light our candle when it is our turn to talk. We go around and say our favorite thing about the team and something that we’re excited for to happen in Florida,” Manderscheid said.

Overall, Nationals is an important trip, as it is many cheerleaders’ aspiring goal in their high school cheerleading career. “The trip shows the blood, sweat, and tears you put into this season. Seeing your hard work pay off and getting on that finals mat is just like, ‘you made it,’” Vogt said.