It’s bustling with people at the ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney World. And it doesn’t just swarm: it sings, it jumps, it shouts, it dances.
What’s happening ? For one reason or another, we thought we would arrive at CF Montreal training in a practically empty sports complex at this time of day. It’s 11 a.m., it’s a weekday. But this is not at all the scene that welcomes us.
In fact, what greets us are dozens and dozens of cheerleading teams. All in their uniforms. Some rehearse their songs, their choreographies. Others are on the move, on their way to another rallying point.
Without meaning to, we have just arrived at Daytona, the competition of cheerleading national whose preparation by different college programs is brilliantly documented in the Netflix series Cheer ? It’s just like, without the broadcaster’s cameras and Monica Aldama’s boots. At least, we didn’t see them through the sea of people moving through the complex during the two days we spent in the area.
It’s not Daytona. Rather, it is the Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) American High School National Championship. Obviously, it’s big. At this level, in fact, it is the most prestigious competition in the country. We have the impression that the entire planet cheerleading American has just arrived in Orlando. That’s probably the case.
Our duty calls us to the end of the ESPN Wide World of Sports. The 700 meters that separate us from the entrance to field number 5, where CF Montreal is located, take a little longer to cross than expected. In the meantime, we notice that groups of cheerleaders are rehearsing all the way to the back of field number 20, at the other end. Closer to us, another team tries to take a nap and recover in the shade, in a remote corner of the site.
We arrive at the baseball field where the Bleu-blanc-noir players are getting ready to start the session. They arrived by bus, a few dozen meters from the lawn, avoiding the entire scene taking place right next to it. Or almost.
“Are you going to attend the competition cheer later ? », we ask George Campbell, who is being held up as he leaves the coach. “No, I don’t think so,” he replies, smiling.
The players warm up with Latin music playing in the background. We make our Shazam (yes, it still exists): the song is Deseándote, by Frankie Ruiz. The application presents his photo to us. Matías Cóccaro, get out of this body.
Rather, it is Josef Martínez who seems most delighted to hear this melodious and rhythmic tune. The CFM striker hums a few words while swaying slightly in the center of the field and his new friends.
A staff member stops the music, then the CFM practices for nearly two hours. Laurent Courtois gives instructions that seem clear to us, even from a distance. He encourages his players ardently, and corrects them immediately if he is not completely satisfied.
Meanwhile, the festivities can be heard from the loudspeakers of the enclosure in the several hundred stands next door. This will be the case until the team returns to the vicinity of the coach. An ice bath awaits him. Several players, including Samuel Piette, Jonathan Sirois and Dominik Iankov, integrate water with the Siberian cold. The security guard at the ESPN complex smiles happily. Just like Bryce Duke, still dressed, filming his teammates laughing.
Come on, let’s go home, before we make this sunburn worse that we can already feel burning our face.