Cheerleading St. Michael had a big moment with the world title in the sorority junior team

Orland Park’s Bridget Guzior has been around for a long time, serving as a high school and club coach and referee in recent years.

She knows her trade. She knows the inside of the game.

So when her 12-year-old daughter, Reese, spent eight weeks in the hands of other cheerleading coaches, Bridget Guzior was understandably a little worried.

Guzior knew Reese was getting some of the best coaching in the world as the St. Michael’s sixth grader trained with the United States national team as she prepared for the International Cheer Union 20 Junior World Junior Championships. -April 22 in Orlando.

The US Junior National Coed team that Reese was a part of won the world championship, beating teams from Thailand, Norway, Finland and Mexico.

“It was a really nice experience,” Reese said. “We practiced for eight weeks, and we had eight hour rehearsals. We did well.”

Guzior called this a “once in a lifetime” experience for her daughter. This year, the USA team was based in Illinois so there was a large Illinois presence, although some athletes on the 23-member team came from Michigan, Wisconsin and Texas each weekend for practice.

Team USA will likely be based in another state in 2023 so Reese, one of the youngest members of the team, was lucky to be in the right place at the right time.

Many of the practices were in the northwest suburb of Huntley, and Guzior would drop Reese off in the morning and pick her up in the afternoon.

“The coaches on the USA National team were national champion or state champion coaches,” she said. “She was in good hands. It was easy for me to make sure she got this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

All those hours of practice and preparation resulted in one round that lasted only a few minutes. But it was all worth it for Reese.

“When they announced that we won, it was amazing,” Reese said.

The Olympics don’t recognize competitive cheerleading but Guzior hopes that will change soon.

“We want this to be an Olympic sport,” Guzior said. “We’re working really hard to get there and treat it like the sport these athletes work so hard to be in.”

In 2021, the International Olympic Committee gave full recognition to the ICU, which was a first step in the right direction for the sport.

There are a few more hoops to jump through before it becomes an Olympic sport.

Jeff Webb, founder of the Universal Cheerleaders Association, told “Good Morning America” that “L.A. has a nice ring to it,” meaning 2028 could be possible. Los Angeles is hosting the summer games.

For now, Reese will focus on gambling and playing volleyball for St. Michael’s. And she will have fond memories of the Olympic competition she finished in April.

Guzior influenced Reese’s decision to quit, and Reese said she enjoys it.

“I like performing in front of everyone,” she said. “This trip was fun. I met people from all over the world. We exchanged candy, sunglasses and pins with the other cheerleaders.”

It was also the first time in Reese’s young career that she was on a coed team.

“It was nice to have boys on the team,” she said. “The vibe was very different.”

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