I’m not the biggest complainer in the world, but when something is blatantly wrong and it has to do with something I’m passionate about, EVERYBODY will hear about it. I recently experienced the worst cheerleading competition in the entire world. It was a small and new organization, which one would expect things not be perfect, but nothing like what went down. So much happened in the two days I was there, I don’t even know where or how to begin. I guess I’ll just start from the beginning.
We were told the competition was going to be held on the beach at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. When we arrived, the main floor was STILL being built in a parking lot across the street from the Boardwalk. Okay, so it’s in a parking lot, whatever, no big deal, that’s something we would have to personally get over. However, the fact that the floor was STILL BEING BUILT at 9:30 in the morning when the first team was scheduled to go on at 11:00, is an issue.
Fast forward to 11:00. The floor is finished, done poorly with a bunch of visible air pockets and bubbles sporadically throughout the floor and we still don’t have a warmup area. People are trying to understand what the holdup was and there was word floating around that the competition wasn’t going to start until 12:00. This hasn’t been announced to the audience by any person “working” the competition. I use the word working in quotations because everyone wearing an event t-shirt was supposedly a volunteer. You would ask anyone of them in a shirt ANY question and their answer was “I don’t know, I’m just a volunteer.” How is that acceptable? We didn’t know who was in charge of anything.
Fast forward to 12:00, the new competition start time. By this time, word was floating around that we were waiting for the judge(s) whose flight just landed in San Jose and it would be another hour before we would start. Mind you, none of this has been announced to anyone! So finally a young gal gets on the mic and says we’re going to have fun and do a jump off. Why? We don’t know why we’re stalling, but the kids were all for it, so let’s do it. The jump off was slightly entertaining and killed a little bit of time, so I guess it wasn’t a total bust. But then we went back to the waiting game.
Fast forward to 1:00, the new NEW competition start time. The same young gal gets on the mic and says “I have an announcement that will make you all VERY happy”. She said that team ABC and XYZ were going to warm up and perform and THEN we were going to take a 30 minute break to get organized. Ummm…WHY is that going to make us happy? We’re already 2 hours behind schedule, it’s hot, and the kids haven’t eaten since about 9 in the morning because we kept getting the runaround about when we were going to start. By this time everybody is done, but we don’t want to upset the kids, and we just want to compete. We still don’t know anything about the “judges” that are coming from San Jose. All I know is that when the first team finally went on, the judges were all people that had been there since the morning.
Fast forward to when the competition FINALLY started around 1:30; two and a half hours AFTER it was scheduled to begin. There was only one judging panel and the judges are scoring by pen and paper, so there was a lot of time in between teams performing. During the stalls, the same young gal on the mic, thought it would be a good idea to play games or interview the athletes during the stalls BEFORE they performed. At this point, nobody wants that, and I had to let her know. Before one of our teams went on I told her that nobody wanted to talk and nobody wanted to play games, they just wanted to compete. We had teams that had been at the competition for over 3 hours waiting to compete and were ready to go, so we started sticking our teams in randomly at any time. We told the people volunteering at the competition that we had warmed up and were ready to perform and they let us.
There are a few moments that I would like specifically talk about:
- The owner of a gym asked one of the volunteers where the on deck location was and the answer she got was “umm you can just stand somewhere in that vicinity”.
- Another coach asked where the athletes were to enter the stage and she said “umm wherever”.
- The excess floor pieces were laying around the competition area, not covered up or anything.
- There were no directions as to where to enter the competition floor, where to exit the competition floor, or ANYTHING.
- There wasn’t anybody directing us through the “warmup” area.
- A coach/owner had to fix the main floor before anyone went to compete because of all the visibly unsafe holes and bubbles in the floor.
- The microphone etiquette was off the hook. “Up next we have team 123. Oh wait, they’re not next, they’re on deck deck deck.”
- Another example of microphone etiquette: “Team 321 you should be in warmups. Go now!”
THIS WAS ONLY DAY ONE!
It’s a new, day, let’s start fresh. The night of day 1, all coaches received an e-mail with the schedule of day 2 and their score sheets. If you’ve read my NCA Judges ARE Fair blog, you know I’m all about defending judges, but when I got my results, I KNEW there was an issue. I will write a separate blog about the judging and my experience talking to the “head/rules” judge because it was THAT bad.
Anyways. Day 2, I’m due to show up at 10:30, the first team is scheduled to perform at 10. I get there are 10:30 and TEAMS ARE PERFORMING! Yes, they started 15 minutes late, but it sure is a hell of a lot better than 2.5 hours late! There’s no more stall talking on the microphone. They’re letting music play during the stalls. There’s someone on the microphone announcing which teams are on deck. There’s an actual on deck area that’s been sectioned off. It’s 1 MILLION times better than the day before. But because there is only one judging panel, and there wasn’t time in the schedule to accommodate this issue, they slowly got off schedule. Apparently there were changes in the schedule, but it wasn’t announced (shockingly) so there was still a bit of confusion as to who was supposed to be warming up and whatnot.
On top of everything, some teams brought their prep teams and they were only competing one day (which was full year teams day 2), and this was their first experience with the company. They knew that it wasn’t organized well, but luckily for the company, this is all they were experiencing. The same coach/owner that had to fix the mat the first day, had to fix the mats the second day. Their “USASF” approved judges were dressed in sweats and t-shirts. Yes, they improved from Day 1, but they were still sloppy.
For awards, a lady who you can tell knows nothing about cheer, says that they’re only announcing first place teams. They don’t even acknowledge the other teams in the divisions. Mind you, there are MAYBE 4 teams at MOST in each division. It’s not going to waste any more time that has already been wasted to just ACKNOWLEDGE the teams that performed. So rude. So all the teams who won got a banner, a spirit stick and a National Champion Jacket. I’m grateful for my win…buuuuuuut, I did NOT receive a jacket. I got a National Champion zip up hoodie sweatshirt. I’m afraid to wash it, because if I do, I’m sure the logo will fall off. There were so many promises that this company offered that weren’t met. A lot of false advertisement.
One of the parents of my program asked why we weren’t on the beach and a volunteer or staff member of this company said that it had been double booked (which isn’t our fault) and then the same parent asked a Boardwalk worker why the beach stage had been double booked and the worker proceeded to tell her that the stage is ONLY up during spring break and the summer time, which is neither for us right now. So why the lies? Why not just own up to what really happened?
Back to awards. So after the first awards and no other teams were announced, I know for a fact that they received an earful from parents. There were tiny and mini teams whose names were not called because they didn’t win. Such a heart breaker. So the second awards they called all the teams and the second place teams received ONE medal (not one per athlete) ONE single medal, and then the participants got headphones attached to a lanyard. This is supposed to be a NATIONALS.
I’ve never been so ashamed, embarrassed, and angry about my sport until now. I’ve never been to such a poorly organized event of any kind. I want this and my upcoming blog about their judging to get to the owner of this company and to USASF since this was an event sanctioned by USASF and they had board members representing this company.
I can only imagine the loads of e-mails and complaints this company is going to have about this competition. I sure do hope they’re ready to dish out tons of refunds. This is really just the short end of what happened, everything happened so fast it was hard to keep up with it all. If you have anything else to add, you can leave comments below. Thank you for reading and please please please share this post!