Published on April 25th, 2014 | by Kim Conley
Team USA Day 11: Opening Ceremonies
Wow, what an eventful day it has been! So many great memories have already been made.
We got an early start on Thursday, meeting at 8 a.m. to head over to the HP Field House for practice. During our twenty minutes on the mat, we did our usual warm up and went full out one last time. We hit everything and it felt amazing! Everyone was in the zone and focused on our goal. I could feel the energy in the room. This full out seemed easier than the ones in the past. I think being in a new and exciting environment with a new crowd definitely helped.
After practice we walked behind the stage so we knew where to go. Walking from warm ups to where we’d be competing almost felt like the real thing. As we were going through the motions, I envisioned how it will feel before we take the floor on Friday, which pumped me up even more. Our coaches were very pleased with how the morning went, and so were we!
As practice came to an end, we traveled back to our hotel to get ready for one of my favorite parts of the ICU World Cheerleading Championships – the Opening Ceremonies! This was one of my most memorable moments from last year and I could not wait to experience it for a second time. I was even more excited to see our rookies experience it for the first time. As we lined up backstage and waited for it to begin, we got to mingle with all of the other countries. We talked to some girls from Scotland for a long time, asking many questions and comparing our countries. We even met a girl who could speak with our accent, which was so cool! She said, “Go Team USA” in her accent first, and then said it in ours. I was blown away because she actually sounded like an American. I think we asked her to say it at least ten times! We also discovered that they listen to some American music and also watch some American TV shows like Gossip Girl! Making friends with people from other countries is something very few people have the opportunity to do, so this is something I will treasure for a lifetime!
After we mingled and took as many pictures with as many countries we could, it was time to start the Opening Ceremonies. We lined up in alphabetical order by country and walked out holding our flag. Some countries had people dress in their traditional clothes and lead them through the walk. Walking out and seeing the floor covered with flags representing each country was breathtaking. Jeff Webb opened up the competition with an inspiring speech, and then it was time for the Partner Stunt and Hip Hop competition to start!
The Coed and All Girl Partner Stunt groups representing the USA did a great job. It takes a lot of courage to go out in front of thousands of people when you don’t have a team of 20+ people on the floor with you, and we are so proud of them!
Next up was Team USA Hip Hop. I was so impressed by what they put on the floor last year; I couldn’t wait to watch this year! It was the first time I had seen their routine and I think I am still obsessing over them. Their routine was insane and they were so entertaining! They went on that floor and dominated, and now they have a gold medal to prove it!
Once the competition ended for the night, it was time for the cultural exchange. We were given a bag of cool items to trade such as stickers, face tattoos, pins and bracelets. It was so much fun because we were able to mingle with our international friends again, trade items between countries, take pictures and dance to the music provided by the amazing DJ! When we received our items to trade, we also received a surprise – the coolest Team USA backpacks I have ever seen! Our coaches got them in the morning but never said that we were getting them too, so we all thought they were only coaches’ backpacks. All day we had been admiring them and asking about them. I hope someone recorded our reaction when LeRoy pulled one out of a box and told us that we were getting them too because we went crazy! Thank you Varsity Fashion, we are obsessed!
After the cultural exchange we headed back to our hotel for a team meeting. At our meeting, Savanna shared some great news. Tony Nash was awarded Coach of the Year by the International Cheer Union! What a huge accomplishment! We are all so happy for him as he deserves this recognition for the amazing coach and person that he is. I don’t think we would have ever found out about it if Savanna hadn’t told us because that’s how humble he is. It takes a special person to be able to work with a brand new team for nine days and train them at this level. I am so honored to be coached by the best of the best!
Tomorrow is the big day we have all been waiting for, and I can’t wait to show the world how hard Team USA Cheer has been working!