USA Cheer Takes Gold For The First Time On Foreign Soil

When it comes to the normal training for USA in April, the teams train for about 10 days before heading to Orlando. When it came to competing on foreign soil for the first time, this wasn’t the case!

At the end of June, alumni members of the USA Coed team were informed of a potential competition opportunity for the first time overseas. Everyone was super excited, but there was a small catch! 

The members of the USA Coed Poland team were required to be under the age of 25 and had to currently be enrolled in college or have graduated within the past calendar year. These were the regulations of the 2018 FISU World University Championships. Twenty members met these qualifications, which set the team for Poland.

In this piece, USA member Millery Null takes us through their day-by-day journey from training to winning gold!

We were highly supported by all of our alumni and their support truly helped us along the way!

Training took place September 29 through October 2 in Los Angeles at Marina Del Ray Middle School and Culver City Middle School. The team was coached by Leroy McCullough and Savanna Sibley. USA Cheer Executive Director Lauri Harris and USA Cheer Athletic Trainer Anda Udris also took part in this journey.

This situation was unique in the way that only two and a half days of training took place before hopping on the 12-hour plane ride to Poland. Those two and a half days were filled with nonstop reps of each element in the routine. That’s not much time to find timing with your stunt partners and pyramids, but with dedication and teamwork, we pulled it off!

Night 1 In Los Angeles

After the entire team landed in Los Angeles, we had our first practice. A few members even drove straight from the airport to the first practice. We set up the entire routine, minus the ending pyramid, so that everyone knew when and where they were going.

We repped out elites, IMEs, and the opening hand in hand stunt to begin finding our timing with our partners. The only thing we didn’t do at the first practice was the pyramids and tumbling.

Day 2 In Los Angeles

On day 2 we had three practices. We started off by setting the pyramids. This day was filled with reps, reps, and more reps of each element in the routine, including the pyramids and tumbling.

We started running parts after lunch. We ran all stunts and pyramids to the music to get the feel of the routine. After dinner, we went full out minus tumbling!

Day 3 In Los Angeles

On day three we had two practices. We hit the ground running early in the morning and went full-out three times!

After lunch, the kids from the middle school gathered in the gym and we went full-out for them. This is when we hit our first zero-deduction routine!

After the full-out we took pictures with the kids, introduced ourselves, and we were presented with drawings and letters from the children!

We finished out the practice performing each section for more reps!

Day 4 In Los Angeles

Day 4 was the day we got on the plane and flew to Poland. We started earlier than any other day and went full out twice. The first time we had a couple mistakes, but the second full out was our second zero deduction routine!

This definitely gave us some confidence getting on the plane with two zero-deduction routines under our belt after two and a half days of training!

We rolled up the mats and headed to the parking lot where the students gathered around and were chanting “USA!” as we pulled away.

Then off to the airport we went!

Day 1 In Poland

We had an official practice time in the venue the first morning we were there. With the jet lag kicking in, we were still determined to keep our success rolling! We had a half hour on a set of six mats, which we used for our “grass time.”

We then moved to a full floor for another 30 minutes where we did our official warmup, followed by a full-out. Many teams from other countries gathered around to watch us.

After practice was over we got to walk around downtown Lodz before heading to Opening Ceremonies. After Opening Ceremonies was over, it was time for the cultural exchange!

Day 2 In Poland

We started the day off with a grass practice where we did each element of the routine multiple times. After practice, we headed inside the venue to cheer on Pom as they competed in the Pom Doubles! Kirsten Trinidad and Zoe Finkelstein from Rutgers University represented the USA in this division. 

We went back to the hotel to freshen up and then headed to the venue to do our “grass warmup” outside. After building some confidence outside we headed into the venue and began our official warm up.

We took the floor to compete for day one, which was 25 percent of our overall score, and came off of the mat with only a few errors. We got the nerves out, discussed the things we needed to improve on for Finals and headed back to the hotel for rest.

Day 3 In Poland

Once again we started the day off with a grass practice to build more confidence before going into Finals. Then, we went inside the venue, watched Pom Doubles compete in Finals and watched their awards. USA Pom took home gold!

After resting at the hotel, it was time for cheer to get ready to take the mat. By now, the team was feeling super confident and ready to take the floor! The final performance was worth 75 percent.

USA started off strong with the cheer and finished the music portion of their Finals routine with a HIT!

My greatest memory was coming off of the floor to a tunnel made by all of the other countries chanting “USA!” and asking us for pictures. It was truly a humbling experience.

This journey was definitely challenging, but the group of people that I took the mat with was one special team. After two and a half days of practice, a 12-hour plane ride, then taking the mat the next day, I couldn’t be more proud of this team!

This team will forever hold a special place in my heart!

Congratulations to USA Cheer for taking home two gold medals at the 2018 FISU World University Championships!

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