Orange Bowl cheer competition brings 1,200 cheerleaders to Davie

Nearly 1,200 cheerleaders took to the mats Sunday in , showcasing dance and cheer routines for the top spot in a region-wide competition.

The Cheer Championship drew cheerleaders ages 6 to 15 from throughout South Florida to the Rick Case Arena at Nova Southeastern University.

“I love it,” said Lauren Lopez, 13, who is a member of the Kendall Hammocks Warriors’ pro cheer team and competed for her fourth year Sunday. “I had a lot of fun.”

The yearly competition brings together 10 different football and cheerleading leagues from northern Palm Beach County to the Florida Keys that don’t normally compete against each other.

This year’s overall winning team was the Bulldogs.

The championship has been around for nearly 19 years. Heidi Dove, director of the Glades Tri-County Youth Athletic League, has been to every one for the past decade.

She said the event gives her girls an opportunity to see teams outside of their area. Based in Indiantown, just east of Lake Okeechobee, Dove and her teams had a two-hour trek to Davie.

“Some of the kids that we have out here don’t get a chance to go stay in hotel rooms and go travel and participate in different events,” Dove said. “So it’s a benefit for our kids to just get out and get the experience.”

The cheer championship is hosted by the Orange Bowl Committee, a nonprofit sports organization in that is charge of the Capital One Orange Bowl football game. This year’s football game is scheduled for Dec. 30 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

While the game has always been the organization’s staple, the committee has tried to branch out to more community-focused events, said Eric Poms, CEO of the Orange Bowl Committee.

The teams of girls compete in five different divisions are subdivided in three groups depending on the squad’s size.

“We see these kids in their respective parks, but this is the place where they come together,” Poms said.

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