Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jekyll Island Has Reason to Cheer Competition Draws Thousands to Glynn

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jekyll Island Has Reason to Cheer Competition Draws Thousands to Glynn

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson, Times-Union staff writer

JEKYLL ISLAND -- Thousands of visitors to the resort will jump around, scream and yell this weekend and it won't be a problem.

More than 3,000 cheerleaders and dancers will vie for trophies in the Clash of the Titans, a competition that draws teams from all over the country. Their ages range from 5 to high school seniors and they have names like Cheer Zone Blazer Elite, Cheer South, United Stingrays and Georgia All Stars.

These teams are not to be confused, however, with the high school and middle school cheerleaders who work the sidelines at football and basketball games, said Mark Lychzkowski, a partner in All Star Challenge, the organization that stages three such competitions each year.

"These are all-star teams formed exclusively for competition,'' he said. "They're run out of a gymnastics facility or a cheer gym.''

And these cheerleaders and dance teams are after high marks from judges rather than firing up a crowd of spectators, Lychzkowski said.

"It's more of a show,'' Lychzkowski said of the weekend competition. "Their athletic skills and gymnastic skills are unbelievable."

Lychzkowski knows the difference. He was a former high school soccer player in good shape when he enrolled at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington in 1988.

"I had a real good-looking girl ask me to come out for cheerleader,'' Lychzkowski said.

He made the male varsity as a freshman, cheered through 1992 and then went to work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as assistant coach of cheerleaders and dancers, a job he still holds.

For the past eight years Lychzkowski has staged cheerleader and dance competitions, including the one on Jekyll Island. The others are in Baltimore and Fort Lauderdale.

Like traveling baseball and soccer teams, the cheerleading squads are made up of the best of school teams. But when it comes to scoring, the competition is somewhat like figure skating, diving and gymnastics in that the competitors are judged subjectively.

Among other areas, score sheets include categories on motions, jumps, tumbling and stunts, and judges also assign points for the difficulty of a routine, choreography and expression. …

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