The Pop Warner Royal Palm Beach Wildcats Midget Cheer Squad represented the community at the 2013 Pop Warner National Cheer & Dance Championships at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, competing for the title Friday, Dec. 13. The squad earned third place in the nation in their division.
The local cheerleaders were also one of the three squads recognized out of more than 50 squads for the Best Spirit Award. On top of that, the Wildcats were the only squad chosen to be in a fashion show that session for the Team Cheer Company, which supplies many associations with their uniforms. It was a great honor for the girls, who practiced for months in order to achieve the goal.
They won first place at both the local and the regional competitions, including being named grand champions at the local level. The Wildcats scored higher than more than 30 other teams to qualify for the national championships. Some team members have been working toward a national title for years. There are 21 girls on the squad ranging from 12 to 15 years old.
Squad members include: Paola Aguilera, Kaeli Besseries, Kara Bishop, Maria Castro, Brooke Champagne, Mia Fusca, Cassidy Gard, Skylar Gray, Juliana Gutierrez, Kaitlyn Hartigan, Derricka Johnson, Cayleigh Pino, Chloe Pino, Lizzi Quinn, Carlee Ramos, Savannah Reynolds, Darian Schwarz, Jensen Sleek, Ashley-Ann Thompson, Karly Tillman and Stefani Vassalotti. The squad is led by coaches Jessi Sleek and Wendy Gard.
The Royal Palm Beach Wildcats Football & Cheerleading Association have been a part of the community for seven years, and this is the first time that any of the cheerleading squads have advanced to the national level.
Pop Warner Little Scholars is the only youth sports organization in the United States that requires its participants to maintain academic standards in order to be eligible for participation. Pop Warner strives to work with school systems around the country to prepare children for the guidelines that lie ahead of them.
ABOVE: The Pop Warner Royal Palm Beach Wildcats Midget Cheer Squad with the trophy they won last month in Orlando.