A Summit Guide for Newbies (and helpful info for returning competitors too)

So your team won a bid to compete at Summit? First of all, huge congrats, as this is not an easy thing to accomplish. For many young athletes, making it to Summit is a dream come true. They are excited, as they should be. For many parents, you are wondering what it all means, and what comes next.
For those of you that are looking at this trip for the first time, read on! For those of you that are Summit veterans, you read on as well, so I can sit back and hear you say “YEP!”

When preparing for your trip to Walt Disney World, the first thing you will notice is the outrageous costs involved with everything. I won’t go into this, because it is a simple fact of life. Anything Disney is expensive. Instead, let’s jump ahead to the trip itself, shall we?

If you are not from the general Orlando area, you will have some traveling to do. When you fly in, the first place you will go is to the Magic Bus. You will wait in line to check in and find out which bus you are on. Then you will proceed to another line to board the bus. This is basically foreshadowing your life for the next few days, as there will be an insane amount of waiting in lines. It starts here at the airport.

Once you make it to your resort, the experience truly begins. You will be surrounded by thousands of cheerleaders, all of whom share the same goal. I have to admit, despite the chaos, it really is a magical feeling. Watching them practice on the grass is really amazing!

Here are my words of wisdom for you to enjoy:

Bring more than one pair of comfortable shoes!
Trust me on this. You will be walking. A lot! I brought one pair of shoes last year, and it rained so hard that the entire ground was under over an inch of water. Sloshing around the rest of the day in soaked shoes was not exactly comfortable. Quite the opposite, actually. So be prepared!

Do not over-plan!
Please remember that your primary goal is the competition itself. Yes, there are many parks to explore, and hopefully you will have time to visit them at some point…but do not try to make it a priority, as you will most likely end up disappointed. Schedules may, and often do, change. You might think you can take a quick trip to Disney Springs for some shopping, but trust me, the word “quick” doesn’t exist. In addition, you want your athlete to be performing at 100%. Tired legs can result in a fallen stunt. It is not worth the risk.

Transportation is very time consuming!
Unless you rent a car, or choose to use Uber, you will be reliant on Disney’s bus system to get to Wide World of Sports or any of the parks. Always remember, you have to walk to the bus area, wait for the bus, ride the bus, and take the long walks from where the busses drop you off. If you are hungry, there is no such thing as a quick trip to Disney Springs to eat at Rainforest Café. Remember it like this: Walk, wait, ride, walk, wait. In that order. So, if you are hungry now, and you make that choice, you won’t be actually eating for another couple of hours.

Uber is your friend!
Seriously! Take advantage of this and take a trip to a grocery store and stock up on some essentials, as the shops in the resorts are very expensive. Yes, it really is $3.00 for a bottle of water. Another thing…since we had a full room, and only a tiny little bottle of shampoo available in the room, I walked down to the shop only to find that a bottle of shampoo was $9.00! Um….no.

For those of you out west – the weather!
Florida is hot. Like Africa hot. Florida is humid. Very. It can be draining if you aren’t used to it. For me, it felt like I was always wrapped up in a hot, damp blanket. Always have plenty of water on hand.

Also for those of you out west – the time zone!
Plan on losing up to three hours, depending on where you are traveling from. This is rough, especially if your group competes earlier in the day. For us last year, we were up in the first hours, so we had meet up at 7:00 AM, which means we had to meet at the bus stop at 6:00 AM, which means the athletes were up at 4:00 AM getting ready. For us, that was really 1:00 AM! You may have noticed a long run-on sentence above. I did that on purpose, to help get you prepared for everything that is to come. Get plenty of sleep! I cannot stress that enough.

Friday – Wild Card Day!
If you are competing on this day, it can be rough. There are many teams competing on this day just to make it to the official Day 1. Only a handful of teams will make it. If your team makes it, congrats! That was not easy! If not, be prepared to have a bummed-out kid. (I’ve been there, and it is hard. But you know what? The whole thing is hard…you are going up against the best of the best!) If you have multiple teams competing, there are multiple arenas that are housing the events. Watch your schedule and give yourself enough time to navigate through the crowds to get to where you need to be.

Day One!
Your young athletes worked their butts off to get here. Always remember that. First and foremost, this is their time, and it means the world to them. Please do not provide any added stress to anybody or anything. They are stressed out enough. They want to win more than anything. To them, everything needs to be just perfect. Help them make it perfect! If they are freaking out over hair or make-up, please do your best to remain calm. They have the biggest competition of the season ahead of them. Make it as smooth as you can. You WILL be stressed. Your child WILL drive you crazy. Just this once, keep it cool. Your stress, or any type of negative energy, can be contagious and it travels a very long way. It will eventually reach the other athletes and could very well have a not-so-good impact on their performance. This is their time, and it’s a hard time. Again, they are going up against other athletes that fought just as hard to get there, and they want it just as bad. So please, give yourself enough time to make everything just right. If your child prefers to do everything on their own, sit back and let them. But be there in case they need help. Because they WILL be stressed, and they WILL freak out, and they WILL drive you crazy.
After they perform, you will have a waiting period before you have to go to the Awards hall to find out if they advance to day 2. If they don’t make it, congrats on making it this far! If this is the end for you, you have the entire rest of the day and the next day to go play in the parks and let off some steam…and just to celebrate being there in the first place. If they do make it to day 2, congrats! Now go grab some food, and get some sleep. You are going to need it.

Day 2!
This is it, folks! The strongest of the teams made it to this day. If you think your athlete was nervous and stressed on day 1, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Keep things as calm as possible for them, and help when needed. Be the support they need, and always display a positive attitude. Wish them the best, and scream as loud as you can for them. For some athletes, this may be their last season in the sport. Let’s make it as special as possible. If your team hits, excellent! If they don’t, that’s okay too. The stress level at this event is very high, and a certain level of mental toughness is necessary in order to get through it.

Day 2 awards!
For me, this is every bit as stressful as the competition itself. Pins and needles, I tell ya!!! Remember, no matter how nervous you are, your child is feeling that times ten! They worked hard, and fought their way to the top. I will tell you this now…no matter how they placed, the fact that they got there is amazing. If they did not win, they will now know that Summit is no joke, and they will know to work even harder next season. They will be upset. Let them be upset. They just worked their butts off. Give them the time they need to navigate their emotions. Nothing you can say will cheer them up. Just give them a hug and let them know you are proud of them.
If they do win, and your team is announced and the confetti cannons shoot off, there is no other feeling like that in the world! Congrats, champs!!!

The party at Hollywood Studios!
If you are interested, on the evening of day 2, Hollywood Studios closes to the public, and opens a portion of the park to Summit attendees only for a few hours late at night to celebrate. I would not recommend this for younger athletes, as it is packed to capacity, and the wait times for the few open rides are usually more than three hours.

Magic bands – friend or foe?
Magic bands are these bracelets you wear that serve many purposes. They are your room key, you entrance into the parks, your fast passes, and it is also how you pay for things. Yes, you simply hold up your bracelet to the Mickey ears and the deal is done! It makes everything super easy…maybe a little too easy! Example, you find a little something you take a liking to, just take it to the counter, scan your bracelet, and it is yours. If you send your athlete off to the parks with her teammates, just remember, it’s just as easy for them to purchase things as well. Charges add up fast, so keep an eye on things!

And furthermore!

You survived! At this point, if you have time to play, go play and let off some steam! You deserve it! You just went through an exhausting, stressful, highly emotional, yet very rewarding experience. I want to leave you with one last thought…there are countless athletes that dream of competing at Summit. A very small percentage of them will actually make it there. You did make it there. Pat yourself on the back, and hug your kid. They will never forget this. Not ever.

https://www.heartofcheer.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/summit3-400x262.jpghttps://www.heartofcheer.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/summit3-300x300.jpgBrandon CaylorBlogCheerleadersIndustryParentsall star cheerleading,cheer xperience,cheerleading,D2 summit,disney,summit,the summit,varsity
A Summit Guide for Newbies (and helpful info for returning competitors too) So your team won a bid to compete at Summit? First of all, huge congrats, as this is not an easy thing to accomplish. For many young athletes, making it to Summit is a dream come true. They...