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.