Sunday, March 29th
Today began with a tour of the beautiful and historic Roman Forum and the Coliseum. In the afternoon the girls (and Ryan) had the unique opportunity of performing at the Piazza del Popolo. So much fun! The weather in Rome is beautiful and everyone is really enjoying exploring, shopping and eating Italy’s world famous Gelato! : )
Monday, March 30th
Today we toured the Vatican, St. Peter’s Cathedral and the Sistene Chapel. These sites are truly indescribable. What an incredible experience.
This afternoon we will be practicing followed by a dinner at “Ciao Bella”. Tomorrow morning we leave Rome and venture north the the city of Lignano Sabbiadoro. We can’t wait to get to the competition site and prepare for the performance that has been a year and a half in the making! Go Team USA!!
Tuesday, March 31
Today was spent traveling via airplane to the Venice Airport and then boarding a bus for an hour and a half drive to the competition site, Lignano Sabbiadoro. When we first pulled into the city, we were struck with an odd feeling. The very busy summer resort town was virtually a ghost town when we first arrived. As the week progressed, however, more and more local residents and travelers began filing into the city.
After arriving at our home for the week, the Hotel Europa, we quickly got ready for the Team USA banquet. The banquet was such a fun experience. Not often to the top baton twirlers from accross the United States have the opportunity to mingle together, share stories and laugh.
Wednesday, April 1st- Music Test and Opening Ceremonies
Today was a big day!! It began with a morning practice at a local gym and then our music test. The music test is very important because it is the first time we get to see the arena and the floor where we will be competing. The music test went great! We were able to perform our entire routine in front of the rest of Team USA and the feedback was very encouraging.
Following the Music Test the girls had a little bit of time to enjoy the sunshine and ocean. It wasn’t very warm but it was still a lot of fun!
After a little beach time, it was time for perhaps one of the most exciting events of the trip…the Opening Ceremonies!! This is when things really become real for our young ladies and Ryan. Talk about a feeling of pride as all of Team USA marches into the arena with big smiles on their faces and waving their American flags high.
Thursday, April 2nd- trip to Ljubljana, Slovenia
The day began with an early morning breakfast followed by all 135 of our group loading up on buses and traveling for 2 hours to Ljubljana. It was a scenic drive with views of snow covered mountain peaks and small tows with beautiful church towers.
We did not know what to expect from Ljubljana but the term “hidden gem” hardly does it justice. With it’s canal, medieval buildings and castle, this Slovenian city certainly captured our hearts. Our time in Ljubljana included a castle tour as well as a traditional Slovenian lunch which was interesting. (wild boar was on the menu)
Friday, April 3rd- Ryan Yetts competes and trip to Venice
Early this morning Ryan Yetts competed in the Jr. Men’s 2-baton division. He did an amazing job and secured his place in Finals! : )
We also traveled to Venice today for a day of exploring. The sun was shining brightly on “the City of Water” and while there were large crowds we had a wonderful time shopping, sight seeing and taking in all Venice has to offer. How incredibly fortunate we felt to be experiencing all of this with our families and closest friends.
Following our trip to Venice we had practice in our hotel’s rooftop sun room. With our competition tomorrow, it was time to get completely focused. The practice went great! You could feel the drive and determination from each and every one of our team members. It was off to an early bed because tomorrow is the big day!
Saturday, April 4th- Competition Day!
At 9:00am our day began. Today we wanted the team completely focused and together as much as possible. We started with a team breakfast followed by an outdoor practice at a local pier. We moved to a paved area by a local church after the pier location became a little bit difficult to practice on. At the church location we had a little “visitor” who really enjoyed holding our poms and watching the girls. : ) (in the blue coat)
Following our morning practice and lunch, we loaded buses and traveled to a practice gym from 2:00-7:00pm. Here we held our final practice and completed the daunting task of getting make up on 47 girls. When you compete in the pom division in Europe, it is a given that the other countries in your division will have VERY theatrical make-up. For us that meant a lot of green face paint and glitter!
After practice, getting make up on and loading the bus, the girls were ready to go!!!! The bus ride to the competition was one of the most memorable moments of the trip. The girls turned on loud music and completely went nuts, singing at the top of their lungs and dancing in their seats. What a site that must have been for anyone passing by our bus!
We arrived at the competition site at about 7:15pm. Our competition was due to begin at 7:40pm but started about 2 hours late. The atmosphere in our assigned dressing room was a little bit tense at first. We were sharing a room with Holland, Croatia and the Czech Republic. After we started handing out our American flag good luck gifts, however, the mood shifted dramatically. All of the athletes began exchanging gifts and taking pictures together.
We were scheduled to compete 9th out of the nine competing countries and after completing “passport control” it was finally our time to enter the arena floor and show the world what we have been working on for over a year and a half! The girls were very excited and perhaps a bit nervous. Loud chants of “USA, USA, USA” echoed through the arena as the team entered the floor.
The routine went off without a hitch! The energy that radiated from the floor was incredible and the audience responded so well! As the girls hit their last pose, all of the spectators jumped to their feet. Receiving a standing ovation from not only your own countrymen but the very athletes that you had just competed against was amazing. The girls exited the floor and walked to the side of the arena where scores would be read. This is something new at our World competition. The first score to be heard over the loud speaker was a 99.5!!! That is out of a possible 100 points. The other 6 scores were read and it was pretty clear that we were in the running for the gold! We would still have to wait for the closing ceremonies for the final results but things were looking good. The girls exited the floor and exclaimed things like “I wish I could bottle this feeling up forever!” and “Can we do it again?”
Following the competition we had a late pizza party. Talk about an excited group. No one was able to get to sleep that is for sure!
Here are the words of team member Sara Tefft “Words cannot describe the feeling of performing on the World floor with 49 of my best friends! Last night, Team USA performed their best routine ever and even earned a score of 99.5! I am so incredibly proud of the hard work and dedication put in by each girl on this team and I wouldn’t trade this feeling for anything! Tomorrow awards will be announced and we will try to bring home the gold for the USA!”
Sunday, April 5th- Closing ceremonies
We had a free morning today and then it was time to go to the competition site to cheer on our fellow USA teammates and get ready for the Closing ceremonies. While we felt great about the results and the scores seemed to indicate that we were in first place, we didn’t take anything for granted. The scores that were read last night did not include any penalties so anything could still happen.
The awards ceremony seemed to last a long time. It was awesome to see our fellow Team USA members do so well and every time we stood with our hands at our hearts during the playing of our national anthem there was so much pride in our hearts. The pom competition division was the second to last to be announced.
Finally the voice on the loud speaker said “In the pom pom division…third place, France! Second place….Holland! First place…USA!!!!”
Immediately the girls jumped up and ran to the podium waving their flags wildly. There were cheers…there were tears. We have worked so hard to get to this point and the amount of joy felt was indescribable!