ORLANDO, FL – The Summit, created in 2013, is hosted by the Varsity All Star. The event marks the end of the competition season for Levels 1 through 5 Restricted, and Level 5 non-Worlds divisions. Annually, Varsity, the event producer conglomerate with over 20 brands across the United States, Canada, Japan, and Europe sends teams to Orlando, FL to compete against the best “lower-level” teams in the world. This prestigious and exclusive event has become the focal point of many teams season, as they search all corners of the country for bids and right to compete at the elimination style event dubbed the worlds of Levels 1-5 Restricted.
We attended Varsity’s annual Summit event held at Disney’s Walt Disney World Resort on May 3rd – 6th, 2018, and here are the top ten things we learned about cheerleading, and the culture that has been cultivated by the event:
#1 More than at The Cheerleading World Championship, people turn out in droves to support their children.
The ESPN Wide World of Sports, Disney, and Varsity touted the addition of a brand-new Arena to meet the growing needs of all star cheerleading. The Arena which hosted its first event in January 2018, was put to its maximum test this past weekend at The 2018 Summit. The 8,000+/- seat venue has the capability of being compartmentalized into four quarters providing an opportunity for four performance venues simultaneously. As the event has grown since its first year, and even from last season where some 900 teams attended The Summit, this year’s 1250+ teams and their fans proved that cheerleading like many youth sports is a thriving market. The venue at times on Saturday was locked down citing capacity issues, which were complicated by mother nature.
#2 People do not sit for long, except when it is raining.
Unlike The Cheerleading Worlds, where programs are fortunate to bring two teams to the event, the majority of programs in attendance do not bring the ten, fifteen, twenty, or sixty programs that they bring to The Summit. With this said, it means that at The Summit people are far more likely to move after two-and-a-half minutes. Unlike at Worlds where it is not unheard of to watch an entire division, because responsibilities are far lower in terms of the number of teams to support and prepare for competition.
#3 Not even the Black Jacks from California All Stars, can beat the Black Jacks.
The Senior Small Coed 4 powerhouse team has won multiple back-to-back Summit Championship titles. Their name has become synonymous with excellence and prestige in their division, their level, and at The Summit Championship. The team posted a score of 99.15 out of 100 available points, after a .25 deduction incurred in the Semi Final round. On Sunday, the Black Jacks won the event again with a perfect deduction free routine in Finals with the event high score of 99.37 out of 100.
#4 The Senior Medium Level 2 division, was actually perfect in Finals.
Every single team that competed in Finals at The 2018 Summit event hit their routines flawlessly, with 0 deductions. Yes! All 12 teams that advanced into the final round of the competition! The division was an pinnacle example of what The Summit was supposed to represent, the division was narrowly divided by two points from 1st to 12th place.
Teams who participated in finals represented to the following programs:
- Python All Stars of Columbus
- Cheer Athletics
- The California All Stars
- The Stingray All Stars (Johns Creek)
- Fusion All Stars
- SCV All Stars
- FAME All sTARS
- SI Spirit
- Louisiana Cheer Force
- Cheer Central Suns
- Broward Elite Allstars
- Woodlands Elite
#5 It does not matter how many teams you bring to The Summit, you are guaranteed nothing.
Sure having more teams increases your odds of advancing teams. However, nothing at The Summit is promised or guaranteed. In true fashion, cheerleading is unpredictable. Many teams that were once favored to advance, or even win The Summit were eliminated early in the Wildcard or Semi-Final round of the event. The saying, “you cannot predict cheerleading” holds true for The Summit as well.
#6 The Summit has become arguably the largest competition in the world.
More times than I can count we saw parents hurried between venues, rushing to get through the entrance gate, or sitting in traffic (contemplating ditching their car and walking into the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex). Cheerleading fans failed once again to realize that they were attending not only the most exclusive event, but what has become arguably the biggest cheerleading event in the world. Everything takes time, and people grossly underestimated the scale of what they were dealing with.
#7 People are still learning that they have unique fingerprints on each of their fingers.
Much of the extended wait times were complicated by cheer fans trying to enter the ESPN Wide World of Sports grounds through failed attempts to scan their park hopper or admission ticket due to user error. The error more times than not… the use of a different finger than was first previously linked to that ticket.
#8 Cheer Parents proved how savvy they can be in an absence of a VIP Viewing area.
Parents and fans quickly learned what challenges they would face over the weekend. Cheerleading parents are extremely resilient in terms of creating their own systems to accommodate the needs of not only their athletes, but athletes and other parents who could benefit from their understanding. Unspoken systems of fan movement were easily noticeable within the arena to get the fans of the upcoming teams as close as possible to the performance floor in each hall.
#9 Math is important.
- Travel Time.
- Performance Time.
- Warm-Up Time.
- Unexpected Delays.
- Ticket Scanning.
Math and projections play a major part in everyday life. So many things people do not even think of are affected by variables and projections based on numbers. Math remains an important component to creating successful experiences, guaranteeing there is enough of everything. Point is.. Math is important.
#10 Attending The Summit remains a great achievement, but it is not a sole determining factor of success.
Sure, attending The Summit has become a benchmark that people set their sights on during the summer that precedes each season. It is important to remember that athletes achieve so many things, as individuals and teammates, over the course of a season. There are many more takeaways from a season and ways to gauge success and growth, more than what can be seen in a 2 minute and 30 second performance at The Summit.
The Summit Championship creates much excitement each season. It becomes one of the focal points of the season, because of its required bid to attend, and elimination component that is not found at any other events other than The Cheerleading World Championships and The D2 Summit Championship. As a culture, we continue to evolve and learn how to make more impactful experiences for athletes who participate in all star cheerleading. We look forward to learning from the above as our community continues to grow. We cannot wait to see what the 2018/2019 season holds, or what new growth or changes are in store for The 2019 Summit Championship.