Photo courtesy of FishHawk Wolfpack. The FishHawk Wolfpack Mitey Mites (ages 7-9) won the Pop Warner National Cheer & Dance Championship.

The FishHawk Wolfpack cheer organization had great success at the Pop Warner National Cheer & Dance Championship this past December. A total of three of their competitive teams advanced to the nationals in these divisions: Mitey Mite (ages 7-9), Pee Wee (ages 9-12) and Jr. Varsity (JV) (ages 10-13). JV placed fifth nationally, and the Mitey Mites won the national title.

This was the first year that Pop Warner has allowed the Mitey Mite division to compete at Nationals. Every year, the Pop Warner National Cheer & Dance Championship is held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney, and this year the event was live streamed on YouTube.

FishHawk Wolfpack Cheer Coordinator Merideth Van Auken couldn’t be more proud of her students and how far they have come since joining the program.

“Since Pop Warner does not allow tryouts for any teams, it always makes me so proud to see how girls of different experience, skill level and ages can come together to work so hard to make strong teams that perform so well together,” she said. “This was our ninth consecutive year of having teams advance on to Pop Warner Nationals and bring national trophies home. This was also our third national championship.”

The Pop Warner National Cheer & Dance Championship is the highest competition of any Pop Warner team’s season. The Wolfpack first had to win their local competition to earn a spot in the regional championship. From there, they competed at the southeast regional championship in order to earn a spot in the national championship. If teams decide to compete in other competitions after the nationals that is an option, but it is not part of the official Pop Warner competition season.

Since the inception of the Wolfpack in 2007, the organization has been completely run by volunteers.

“I couldn’t be more proud and appreciative of our coaches,” said Van Auken. “They work so hard coming up with routines that suit their teams’ skill levels year after year, and they are such an important part of our program. Wolfpack couldn’t have the success it does without our wonderful volunteer coaches.”

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.