Tumbling, cheering, dancing and stunting have become as much a part of the athletic experience at sporting events as the teams competing. So it was only fitting that the sport of cheerleading is finally making it’s appearance at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games.

I can remember being 14 years old going out for the junior varsity cheerleading team at St. Elizabeth’s High School in Wilmington Delaware. I thought to myself, I should have no trouble making the team. The fact I had never cheered a day in my life never crossed my mind. I mean, it looks so easy right? Wrong! I couldn’t remember even the most basic routine if my life depended on it. I failed miserably and ended up on the pep squad instead. I was a little bummed knowing I would never get to wear a cheerleading uniform or cheer from the sidelines but I did walk away with a new found respect for cheerleading and how much skill it really requires.

When I learned that cheerleading would be making it’s first ever appearance at the 2015 Special Olympic World Games I was so excited. I was doubly excited when I learned that one of the sporting events I would be covering for “Count Down To The Special Olympics World Games With Robin Roberts” was cheerleading. When my crew and I arrived at the arena at Towson University I was delighted to see an ocean of different cheer squads in colorful uniforms, bows in hair and pom poms in hand. There were girls and boys, young and old, big and small, all very diverse in agility and ability. I started to think about how wonderful it was that these athletes had a sport to participate in that allowed them to maximize their gifts not traditionally thought to be athletic.

Watching the different cheer squads take the floor it was clear that being a part of a team, working together in unison, and sending out good vibes to the audience was not just a joy for the spectators to watch but for the athletes to perform. They proved spirit isn’t something that can be contained by physical constraints. It lives in everyone and when you hear it, you can feel it.

So for the 232 cheerleaders from 17 different cheer squads from across the country attending the World Games I salute you with a resounding “Sis Boom Rah!”

“Count Down To The Special Olympics World Games With Robin Roberts” will air this Saturday, July 25th at 8:00pm EST directly before the Opening Ceremonies for the World Games on ESPN.

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