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Why I'll go back to Orlando every year.

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

The ICU (International Cheer Union) is the world governing body for cheerleading and is responsible for organizing and overseeing international cheerleading competitions. The ICU was formed in 2004 with the aim of unifying cheerleading worldwide and promoting it as a sport. The ICU is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the governing body for cheerleading and has over 100 member nations.

The ICU World Championships, held annually in Orlando, Florida, bring together the best cheerleading teams from around the world to compete for the title of world champion. The competition consists of several divisions, including cheerleading, performance cheer, and duo events, and attracts thousands of athletes, coaches, and spectators from all over the world.

It had been quite some time since I last attended the ICU World Championships, but there was an unexplainable urge within me to make the trip to Orlando this year. As I stepped foot onto the Wide World of Sports Complex, I was experiencing the event in a completely different perspective: spectator and team supporter. For five years, I was an ICU head judge sequestered to secrecy and seclusion. This visit felt different and I knew it was the right choice. The atmosphere was electric, and it was impossible not to feel the excitement exuding from every individual in attendance. Athletes roamed proudly in their nation's warm-ups, while spectators and cheerleading enthusiasts followed behind their teams in full support. The sea of colors was breathtaking, from the uniforms to the diverse skin tones. This is when I realized: cheerleading has finally made it.

I closed my eyes and allowed myself to soak in the moment. The air was filled with an array of languages, and the sound of hurried feet surrounded me. The smell of hairspray that is synonymous with competitions filled the open space. The distant murmurs of 5,6,7,8 lingered in the background as teams tightened up their routines. Various languages filled the air; I couldn't decipher them quickly. This made me happy. As I stood there motionless, those who passed me by must have known I was in a state of pure bliss. But no one interrupted my moment of serenity, and I lost myself for a moment.

When I finally opened my eyes, I was met with a familiar face from Germany that I hadn't seen in over a decade and found myself thrown up into a bear hug. And then another from Australia, and in no time, an unplanned reunion had taken place. This is the beauty of cheerleading and the ICU World Championships. It brings people from all over the world together to participate in a sport that unites and celebrates athletes across the world. As the three-day event progressed, the magic within the complex only continued to grow.

The ICU World Championships is not just any cheerleading competition. Athletes pour their hearts and souls into countless hours of training, honing their skills to compete at the highest level. And the results were astonishing. National teams pushing their limits and stretching the rules and boundaries of our sport to new heights. As a leader in the industry, it was truly awe-inspiring to witness such talent on display. The energy in the stands was extraordinary, each routine more exhilarating than the last. It was a stark contrast to my previous experiences, where I had analyzed routines with an unbiased eye, looking for bobbles and falls, counting passes and stunts, and evaluating difficulty and spacing. But this time around, I embraced the whole experience, soaking up every aspect, from the sheer joy on the athletes' faces to the occasional disappointment. I marveled at how far each country had progressed and appreciated every nuance of each routine. It was an experience that will stay with me forever.

In the end, the ICU World Championships celebrates more than just cheerleading. It represents the spirit of the sport, diversity, and unity that brings athletes from all over the world together. As a proud member of the cheerleading industry, I feel privileged to have witnessed the evolution of the sport and how it continues to unite athletes globally.

And the road to Los Angeles 2028 continues...

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