ORLANDO (UCFKnights.com) - Teams from all over the world came together at Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports this weekend for the ICU World Cheerleading Championships.
The tryouts for the US National Team are held the day after College Nationals in January, and this year as the list of 24 names was released, there were a record number of Knights who made the cut. Three members of the UCF Cheer Team, Ashlyn Heeter, Anthony DiCicco, and Jay Hollman made the United States National Coed Premier Team, which is comprised of the most talented female and male cheerleaders in America.
While there were many highlights to representing UCF on the US National Team, Hollman enjoyed most being challenged.
“My favorite part about this opportunity was being challenged physically and mentally throughout the two-week training process with such a high expectation," Hollman said. "That in turn paid off on Friday when we won Gold at the ICU World Championship."
“My favorite part about being on the US National Team was getting to connect with athletes all over the country and around the world," Heeter added. "Cheerleading is an amazing sport but this opportunity really showed me what it’s like to be a part of something bigger than the sport itself. All coming together as a family and coming from different schools, some even being our rivals, really shows how we all share the same love and passion for the same sport.”
Out of the 116 member nations, the US National Team won first place in the Coed Premier and earned second place in All Girl Premier.
“Of course I am so proud of and happy for Ashlyn, Anthony, and Jay and what they were able to accomplish on Friday night," UCF head coach Linda Gooch said. "Could there be anything better than representing our country and bringing home a world championship?"
While Gooch is proud of members of her team taking home the gold, she is most proud after attending a practice the week before.
“I had the chance to attend one of the US National Team practice sessions about a week prior to the championship and watching the work ethic, effort and attitude of our UCF team members at that practice was really special," she said. "I had athletes from across the country come up to introduce themselves and say how much they have enjoyed their teammates from UCF and US National Team coaches made a point of stopping to remark about the talent and toughness of Jay, Ashlyn and Anthony.
"The fact that three of the 24 members of the USA team came from UCF definitely showed the respect our programs garners from those in the cheerleading world," she went on to say. "Then for these three to be given the most elite positions and responsibilities in the routine - they were in literally every element of the performance - showed the confidence that the coaches had that our team members would get it done. It was very gratifying."
It was quite an honor for all three, three UCF graduates, to earn their Gold Medals this weekend.