We visit with ICE Naperville Cheerleading and the Lady Lightning team less than a week before competing at Worlds, diving into one of Naperville’s most successful programs.
High standard have been set for this 2019 Lady Lightning team.
Shannon: “This team has a lot of pressure just being on Lady Lightning because we won worlds in 2014 and world champions in 2017”
Shannon Young is a co-owner of ICE Cheerleading along with Darlene Fanning – who founded the company in 1998.
In the 20 years since, ICE has become a powerhouse – not just in the Midwest, but in the world. And has a following and expectations to match its status.
Minnie: We have this fan base and you have all these fans that are cheering for you so when you go out, you have the whole crowd rooting for you. So it’s such a big deal.
Blessyn: You know that you’re there with the best of the best. And being not a small gym, but a well known gym from the Midwest, it puts a weight on your shoulders and you really have to lift up to the challenge.
Minnie Frank is 18 and a ten-year member of ICE… though, this is her 5th year on the Lady Lightning. That means the veteran has experienced the exhilaration of winning the world competition.
Minnie: “You’re going for the biggest title you can get, and this is what you’ve been training for all year so when we go we’re always read – we have our routine ready – and you know that everyone is there cheering for you.
Meanwhile, Blessyn McMorris is still aiming to win her first Worlds competition for the Lady Lightning, with this being her second year on this team, and 4th overall with ICE.
And the stress of trying to preform at the highest level and for the highest prize is a key focal point as they approach the end of the season
Blessyn: “Darlene, she really teaches us that everyone has nerves, even the best teams, even the teams that everyone fangirls about. We even practice it here – taking the nerves and making it positive energy to go out and hit your routine.
And that’s precisely what they did in their annual showcase… which they posted online to rave reviews.
Minnie: “We’re always pretty quiet all year and then at this time we come out with a video from our showcase and I think this is the most its ever blown up on twitter and on social media.
And that’s an understatement – the video has gone viral with 400 retweets and 16 hundred likes, not to mention countless comments glowing about the prospect of winning Worlds.
And should they follow through on what looks like a promising season – they’d be bringing the title… back to Naperville.
Shannon: “To be able to represent the US at Worlds, to represent Illinois and to represent Naperville… it’s an honor and its something we take so much pride in. There’s so many places a world championship can go and there’s no better place than to bring it back to Naperville.”
A high standard has been set… but the Lady Lightning look up for the challenge of blowing it away.
Reporting for Sports Story Sunday, I’m Kevin Jackman
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