By: Jen Russon
The Parkland Rangers are headed to Orlando to compete in the Pop Warner National Cheer and Dance Championships.
Featuring over 500 cheer teams from around the country, the tournament will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex HP Fieldhouse.
Co-commissioners of the Parkland cheerleading team, Erica Bretz and Heather Jean, said placing in the top 2 cheer and dance squads at regionals, qualified their Junior Pee-Wee and Mighty Mites squads to return to Orlando December 13.
Bretz has two daughters, Jordan, 12, a varsity cheerleader, and Taylor, a pee-wee – competing in the event, and said she would be carpooling with an additional cheerleader when the team heads north to compete through the weekend.
“We love watching the girls smile and cheer, and our own daughters grow over the years. This will be such an exciting competition. If the girls win at nationals, they have the chance to go on to globals in Atlantic City,” said Bretz.
Arranged according to body size, teams as large as up to 35 cheerleaders are divided into Mitey-Mites, Pee-Wees, varsity, and sideline performance groups. The nine YCADA cheer and dance teams also compete in hip hop and pom performance dances.
Describing cheerleading as a mixture of ballet and acrobatics, Bretz and her cheerleading daughters agreed that the road to winning at the national championship is every bit as challenging as it is for football players to win.
A spirit squad will showcase their best (2:30) two minute and thirty second routine, cheering to the beat of music Bretz, Coach Amanda, and the rest of the Parkland Rangers Cheerleaders worked together to mix.
Taylor Bretz said she is equal parts nervous and pumped to perform maneuvers like the tick-tock, where, during practice, she has experienced what it’s like to have a fellow cheerleader fall to the soft mats below.
Taylor’s mother added that tutors would also have their back during the Orlando competition.
“That’s what makes the Pop Warner program unique compared to other programs. They not only teach the value of competition but help the girls maintain their grades while they compete,” said Bretz.
Bretz said the Parkland Rangers cheerleaders attract students from all over Coral Springs, Parkland and Tamarac, hailing from such schools as River Glades Elementary, Westglades, and North Broward Prep.
The Pop Warner National Cheer and Dance Championships will be live-streamed at ESPN, December 13 and 14.
- Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.