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Thursday, March 5, 2015

NCA All-Star Nationals: A Weekend Surprise

My niece is an all-star cheerleader. She's been doing it for six years and competes on a Junior Level 4 team. She is a base. She throws people in the air. She spends hours at the gym working with her stunt group, perfecting her jumps, her tumbles, and all that is involved in these high-stakes competitions. 

National Cheerleading Association, or NCA, has their annual all-star competition in Dallas, where thousands of all-star cheerleaders from around the country bring their best to win the coveted black jackets and first place trophy. 

It's intense...partially because teens (and their moms) can be overly sensitive, but mostly because it's intense, and fractions of points make all the difference. 

I had the wonderful opportunity to surprise my niece in Dallas last weekend before she and her team took the stage at NCA. And a wonderful surprise it was. 

Our weekend began with a team meeting at the convention center, where teams would be told their check-in time, as well as any last minute details needed before show time. 

After a good night's sleep, it was time to report for makeup, a bit of warm-up and stretching, and then they were off. We spectators began our quest for prime viewing, videoing and photo opps. 

After the first day of competition, tensions were high, as my niece's team placed third in their division. The silver lining was that day one's scores counted for only 25% of the total score. The second day, and 75% of the point share, would be earned the next day. 

The team needed to rally. My niece, often serving in a role of ambassador, pulled her team together. Bonding over ice cream and watching their senior level 5 team compete, they pledged to "bring it" to the next day's performance. They needed to make up ground and take it up a notch in order to make up of for the first day's deficit. 

They nailed it. And not only did they nail it, they won their division, edging out the second place team by one one hundredth of a point...a nail biter, for sure. 

The black jackets were theirs. They were national champions. 

And the photo opps were ours. 

The rest of the day was spent at a team celebration and then, later gathering back at the Convention Center to cheer on the remaining teams, most of them Level 5 and elite teams. 

All good things eventually end, but we didn't go down without a fight, powered by giggles, Tex-Mex, and selfie-stick fun. 

Although it was a weekend that moved at a seemingly accelerated pace, my weekend surprise with my favorite girl was filled with moments with laughter, love, and pride that will replay in slow motion and, no doubt, last a lifetime. 


  1. Congratulations! I know the feeling! I was a competitive dancer for 13 years....the competitions and amazing experiences were unreal! I do miss performing!

  2. How exciting! Congratulations to her!

  3. Congratulations to your niece! (And her aunt!)

  4. That was nice you were able to watch them win, and cheer them on.

  5. What a special weekend it must have been! Your niece looks so happy and excited to have you there!

  6. It was such a treat to be able to go and be with her for this special weekend; one I will remember and cherish forever.

  7. Thank you, Rachel! It was such a treat to be able to go and be with her for this special weekend; one I will remember and cherish forever.

  8. Thank you! It was such a treat to be able to go and be with her for this special weekend; one I will remember and cherish forever.

  9. Those comps are amazing. NDA was competing as well, I think. I am so happy I was able to have been there.

  10. What a fantastic weekend! Congratulations to your niece and all of your family in the hard work, and accomplishment. What an experience!