MORROW, GA – South Atlanta’s CAO Elite All Stars traveled to Orlando, FL to attend Varsity Allstar’s D2 Summit at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports. The program with less than 110 athletes, qualified two teams for the Small Gym Championship event.
Going into the weekend, we caught up with owner and coach Toni Tooks Kendrick, who tells us that her program prides themselves on “winning”. Adding, “winning is an expectation and so is a focus on community service.” Coach Toni tells us that every athlete within her CAO Elite organization participates in a minimum of two major community service events. Past efforts for the community include: providing school supplies and Christmas gifts for at risk children.
CAO Elite Reign, Youth 4
One of two teams to represent CAO Elite at the 2018 D2 Summit Championship previously won the event in 2017, in the Youth 3 division. Coming into the event, Toni says, “moving from level 3 to level 4, and being youth aged where everyone is often of similar size presented some of our greatest obstacles.” This year, the team successfully won the event again, this time in the Youth 4 division, giving them a back-to-back win at the season ending event.
2017 D2 Summit Champions, Youth 3 2018 D2 Summit Champions, Youth 4
CAO Queens, Senior Small 1
The Queens from CAO Elite began the weekend with obstacles to overcome. Coach Toni says, the team’s greatest challenges over the course of the season were rooted in “being so outside the box, and striving to not be typical.” She adds, “the most taxing part of their efforts were in ensuring everything was legal, because we hover in the gray area.” The team in the preliminary round was assessed 2 legality violations, and they fortunate to narrowly advance to the final round of the elimination style event in 10th place. Fortunately for the Queens, the D2 Summit does not carry over points from previous days due to the elimination factor of the event. The Queens successfully “hit” with zero deductions in Finals at the event, went from tenth place to first place, winning, the 2018 D2 Summit hosted by Varsity Allstar.
Competing at the highest level of cheerleading is a daunting task. The pressure and expectation to attain perfection at the culmination of these athletes’ seasons creates the perfect storm of “what ifs”. CAO Elite, stands in a class of their own having achieved what few, if any, can say they have done. They can return to Georgia saying they had a “perfect” Summit experience (both figuratively and literally) in 2018.
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