It's that time of year. Thousands of young athletes have punched their tickets to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., for the Pop Warner Super Bowl and National Cheer and Dance Championship at the Disney Wide World of Sports.
It's a long road to get to this point. To get an idea of just how long, let's break down what the extravaganza at Orlando is comprised of:
--In football, Pop Warner teams eligible for the Super Bowl are divided into four different age/weight ranges: Junior Pee Wee, Pee Wee, Junior Midget and Midget. For example, Junior Pee Wee is typically 8-11 year olds who weight between 60 and 105 pounds. Midget is typically 11-15 year olds who weigh between 105-160 pounds.
--A Pop Warner team must win its respective league to advance to the Regional Championships.
--There are eight regionsEastern, Mid-America, Pacific Northwest, New England, Mid-South, Southeast, Wescon and Southwest.
--Eight teams emerge from each region teams from each of the four age/weight ranges in Division I and Division IIto advance to the Super Bowl.
That means that 64 teams are heading to the Orlando area for the Super Bowl. Each team is guaranteed at least two games over the seven-day event, which means the fields are going to be pretty worn down once its all said and done.
For the cheer and dance squads, the road is similar:
--Teams are divided by squad size (small and large) and further into novice, intermediate and advanced.
--A squad must place in the top two of its league competition to qualify for regionals.
--Once at regionals, each squad performs a 2:30 routine. The top two squads in each size and division advance to the championships in Orlando.
Pop Warner expects more than 500 cheer and dance squads in Florida for the five-day event.