At the summer cheerleading camp, every cheerleader learns a cheer, chant, and dance. After a few days of nonstop practicing, they hold their “All American” tryouts. Only a handful of people from each team are chosen to try out by their coaches. You start by trying out at UCA camp, which is a camp for cheerleaders across America. Only a selected few are asked to try out for “All American” and for the UCA staff. After tryouts, everyone goes to dinner, comes back and waits to hear the “All American” cheerleaders get announced. Seniors Olivia Carter and Suniah Parsons were the two selected from RHS.
Carter had lots of feelings run through her as she was waiting for the judges to announce the selected cheerleaders. “When they began calling names I got discouraged because my name was one of the last called,” she said. “When they finally called my name though, I took a huge sigh of relief.”
Once the girls were selected, they were given the responsibility to come up with roughly $4,000 for the expenses to go to London. Carter used several methods to raise her money. “Fundraising was not the easiest thing to do,” she said. “I did just about everything from going door-to-door, set up a GoFundMe and probably anything else you could think of.”
Parsons has experience with this cheerleading program. “I have been doing cheerleading for eight years, this is the second time I’ve made All American,” she said.
After being selected, the cheerleaders were given a routine that they had to practice and learn in a month. “We had a month to learn the routine but I decided to wait until I got there because I am a procrastinator, but I am also a fast learner so I learned it the first day. We only had a single two-hour practice the whole time we were there so it was a little confusing but everything worked out perfectly,” Parsons said.
As time got closer to leave, Carter grew anxious. “When it got closer to the time to go, the more real it got,” she said. “I couldn’t have ever imagined in my head what it would be like, but I kept getting the realization that in a few short months, weeks, days I would no longer be in America.”
Both girls agree with the fact that the trip was an good experience. “The architecture there was more beautiful than anything I have ever seen in my life. On our itinerary, we had a few major things to do. We went to go see a Broadway musical, “Wicked,” and we went site-seeing everywhere and we did a lot of shopping. Doing all these things with people I’ve never even met before from all around the nation was such a cool experience.”
The whole trip was to cheer in the LNYDP [London New Year’s Day Parade]. With the girls having to go back home and leave London, both brought back things with them. “I came back home with so many more friends that live everywhere in the U.S.,” Carter said. “Coming back home was the hardest thing to do. I didn’t wanna leave. One week in London is not enough time in London and there is no doubt in my mind that I will be going back.”
Parsons brought back something that would help shape her future. “I’ve always had a passion for cheerleading and this experience made it stronger,” she said. “I can see myself cheerleading at the college level and definitely coaching in the future. But I wouldn’t have been able to experience this without the help of my family and all the hard work I put in throughout the years.”
One thing that Carter found interesting about the experience is the people in London seeing that they came from America and went to London to perform. “It was an experience of a lifetime,” she said. “Cheerleading is hardly an international sport, so when you wore the uniform all the locals knew you were an American. It was really cool performing in front of everyone, it made everyone feel famous and important.”
Parsons loved the adventure with different people. “The best parts about the trip was meeting people from all over,” she said. “I flew with a guy from Kentucky and a few from Minnesota.”
They did all their travel by foot and Parsons felt that was exhausting. “The hardest part was walking everywhere the whole time,” she said. “We walked all day, at least five miles a day.”
With all the money and hard work put into it, these two cheerleaders will forever remember this experience.