The final competition of the season is the last chance to show what our talented groups of athletes are made of. The kids are excited as well as Kate and myself. However, running through our minds, nervousness runs through our veins. Not because we doubt our athletes, but we want them to perform to the best of their abilities. Thoughts of, “are we going to hit? Please let their timing be correct, please hit the stunts, they need to be counting.” These few thoughts along with many others are running through both our heads, as we wish the girls good luck and walk out to the front of the stage. Hearts pounding with mixed emotions, we look at each other once, excitement and nervousness seen in our eyes. We then turn to the front of the stage. The announcer comes on the microphone and says, “Now taking the floor, from Jacksonville, Fl, please welcome Central Florida Athletics Mini Fab!!” the parents are behind us cheering and chanting, “C-F-A, C-F-A, C-F-A.” The music starts, and Kate and I start counting, “5,6,7,8…”
For our Mini Fab team, the last competition weekend started earlier than the rest of CFA. Thursday after work, we started our journey to Pensacola, Fl, to compete at the U.S. Finals. Earlier in the season, we placed 1st while also scoring the highest out of all of the Level 1 competitors. Therefore, we were crowned Grand Champions and received a full-paid bid to the U.S. finals. In other words, this is a huge deal for our gym in its first year. We arrive late in Pensacola Thursday night only to be up early the next day to get one more practice before we compete Saturday.
Following a successful practice, the coaches and families spend the remainder of the day out by the pool overlooking the ocean; soaking up some sun before the rest of the weekend is spent indoors competing. After enjoying a team dinner, the coaches and parents go off to a hole in the wall establishment to enjoy some live music and time away from the kids. A relaxing day ended with a pretty awesome cover band while spectators of all ages dancing and singing to their favorite songs.
Saturday morning…competition day. The excitement and nervousness kicks in. It’s time to prove to the world why we are here. We are at the convention center to compete in a prestigious competition, one that may be a once in a lifetime for some of the athletes. Warm-ups went pretty smooth and before we know it, Kate and I are in front of the stage waiting for the team to come out and perform. The music is on, and Kate and I start counting, “5,6,7,8..”. And then it happens, a coaches’ biggest fear… a stunt falls. For a coach and being at this type of competition, we know the chance of getting first place is over. But luckily for the athletes, they performed the rest of the routine great and we end up in 5th place. Without the fall, we would have placed 3rd, but we have no time to stress and be disappointed. We have to head to Jacksonville to meet up with the rest of our CFA family for our last competition.
A five hour drive turns into an almost 8 hour drive. One of our coaches was sick, but by 2 am, we pull into the hotel, exhausted. It was almost as though my eyes had just shut, before multiple alarms going off at 6:30 am. I think to myself, “Three hours of sleep is nearly not enough.” But, as before, we have no time to think about how tired we are. We have competition to dominate. It’s time for the last competition of the year. And so it begins, one last performance for all of our teams, two minutes and thirty seconds to show what CFA is all about.
Mini Fab hits the warm-up mat, unfortunately missing performances by Senior Fury and Junior Freedom. Luckily, we were able to watch Youth Fierce perform, before heading back. While in warm-ups, Freedom and Fierce are in awards. Freedom placed 4th place which is great. Next was the youth level 3 category. Listening closely, they announced the 2nd place team, and realized, “ WE JUST WON”! We could all hear the CFA family going nuts as they announced Youth Fierce getting 1st place. While the excitement was on the rise, we had to focus on warm-ups. Warm-ups went smooth as usual, and before we know it, it’s time.
“5,6,7,8….” We are counting as loud as we possibly can. First stunt hits and a sigh of relief runs through our minds…stunts hit, tumbling hits, the only thing left is the pyramid…AND IT HITS!!” A sigh of relief goes through my mind and I thought, “Best routine all year.” Now we play the waiting game for awards. A couple hours go by and it’s time. We have 6 teams in our division. The 4th-6th place teams are announced, and I think, “At least top 3”. The 3rd place team is announced….my fists start to clinch…”please, please, please” is all I can think…2nd place is announced, and the kids knew, WE GOT IT!!! Excitement, joy, happiness, all of these emotions are going through our heads as CFA goes wild when they announce 1st place, Central Florida Athletics Mini Fab. Not only did Mini Fab and Youth Fierce place 1st, Senior Fury and J3 Flawless placed 2nd, and Junior Freedom placed 4th. It was the perfect ending to the perfect season. All of our teams performing the best they ever had, and an upbeat atmosphere from all of our CFA family that has continued throughout the week and will continue into next season.
It was an amazing season, by far my favorite season I have coached. I work with an awesome group of coaches, staff, and athletes.
Until next time, Be Safe and Make Good Choices!