London isn’t exactly the first place most high schoolers would spend their Christmas break, but for cheerleading seniors Tiana McNeely and Caroline Balsino that’s exactly what they did.
“Being able to go across the world and do what we did was really cool,” said Balsino. “We learned a lot. Every single day we’d learn something new and we’d freak about it and just tell everyone.”
Both girls started cheer at a young age and were involved in cheerleading clinics, Pop Warner and the Tucson Cheer Academy. They are the only two seniors left from their freshmen team at Mountain View High School.
McNeely and Balsino were selected to perform in the London New Year’s Day Parade by the Universal Cheerleading Association (UCA) last June. UCA provides training camps for high school and college cheerleaders. After much hard work and the support of their families, both girls, were able to afford the eight-day trip.
While in London, the girls toured the museums, took in the sights and on the second to last day, performed in the London Parade with an estimated 1,000 other cheerleaders. This by far was the most exciting part of the trip for the two seniors.
“People would see us and point and say, ‘They’re Americans! They’re Americans,’” said McNeely. “We felt like celebrities.”
Mountain View’s head varsity cheer coach Sydnee Friedman said the Balsino and McNeely deserved this opportunity.
“I am so proud of them,” said Friedman. “They have such a drive and dedication.”
Balsino and McNeely hope to stay in cheer after they graduate from high school. Balsino hopes to tryout for UCA and pursue a career in the medical field. McNeely said her biggest hope is to tryout for the University of Alabama, but she would consider the University of Arizona cheer team as well.