life in and around NYC is insane

Monday, January 26, 2009 Florida trip this winter

One of the perks of being on the high school cheer team, or the high school dance team, was the annual trip to Central Florida for competition. With neither of my girls on a team this year, I am bereft.

I have wonderful memories of these competitions, especially the Florida trips. the girls and I had vacationed in Central Florida many times from 1998 through 2001, visiting Walt Disney World 5 times and Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure once. We hadn't been to Florida since 2001, and going back with the teams was a delight.

Jen's sophomore year the team went to a competition at Universal Studios, and Becca and I went with the team. The next year, Jen's junior year and Becca's freshman year, the dance team went to WDW in early March and the cheer team went to WDW in mid March. Ditto last year. (The dance team also travels to Myrtle Beach for a competition at the end of March, but that's a different story.)

Going on these trips is a lot different than watching your child participate in the local coaches' association competitions, sitting in the bleachers all afternoon just to see your child's 4 minutes of fame. there's a lot of bonding among the girls, and among the moms as well.

It starts at the school, the girls, the coaches and the moms all meet to catch the bus to the airport. the girls all wear their team warm ups and carry their competition gear in their duffel bags (you want all your competition gear in your carry on, just in case the airline loses your luggage). Until you return to school a few days later, the girls will be together as a team. There will be some drama, of course (they're teenage girls, after all), and a lot of bonding over shared experiences. total strangers will see the girls in their warm ups and ask a dozen questions about the competition, and wish the girls luck (or, on the way home, strangers will see the trophy(ies) and congratulate them). I know, I know, some people don't like the cheer teams and dance teams at Disney, though I must say, our girls were well behaved ... unlike some other teams I've seen there...

It's a package deal. You stay in a hotel with many of the other teams from your competition and/or other competitions taking place nearby. There's no place to really practice for the competition, so the coach will find a grassy area at the hotel do run-throughs to keep the girls focused on the reason for being here, because there's also plenty of time for lounging by the pool, visiting the theme parks, shopping for souvenirs, enjoying team dinners...

Competing in a large venue, such at the Hard Rock at Citywalk or Disney's Milk House, can be a bit overwhelming for girls who have only competed in high school gyms. The crowds are huge and the performance space can seem enormous. There's a professional DJ and an MC, the competition is being videotaped, and photographed with stop-action photography. the good news is, you don't stay for the whole competition -- only for your division, which may be only a few teams.

Right now it's freezing here in NYC, and I have an overwhelming desire to see palm trees....but in truth I think I miss the whole team spirit thing, the mother-daughter bonding, the being part of something, more than I miss the actual trip to Central Florida. I mean, I could go to WDW again, with my kids or with friends, but it wouldn't have the same "feel" as being on a team trip.

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