Alongside her participation in Blake varsity cheer, senior Nikki Kong spreads her cheerleading presence outside school walls by competing in the five-time world champion cheer team Maryland Twisters.
The Maryland Twisters is an all-star cheerleading facility for both Maryland and Virginia cheerleaders with training programs for every athlete level and age, including recreation, high school, college, professional, and All-Star. The 20 All-Star teams compete regionally and nationally; their teams have won a plethora of state and national titles, along with several Worlds medals.
Kong began to develop her devotion for cheerleading when she joined the cheer team at Benjamin Banneker Middle School. She went on to join All-Stars in 2014, her high school freshman year after a peer introduced the team to her. At the same time as she discovered All-Stars, Kong began her high school cheerleading career as a member of the Blake junior varsity cheerleading team; she furthered her participation as a member of the varsity team her next three years, as well as cheering on the school’s winter cheer team.
By participating in both Twisters and Blake varsity cheer, Kong is able to expand her cheerleading skills through variance in coaching styles and teamwork dynamics. “I like that I get to try out other positions and participate on both teams because they are both very different.” Kong says, “Allstars is much more competitive, but high school cheer also allows me to get more involved in school.”
Along with the Blake practices, Kong regularly practices with the Twisters to rehearse routines for upcoming competitions. “I practice with Twisters 3-4 days a week, and 3 hours each practice,” says Kong. The Twisters’ extensive practices prepare them for regional and national competitions along with more cutthroat contests, like Summit and Worlds as the ultimate goal. Both prestigious events are held at Walt Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida, and require bids to participate in. “We go to about 8 competitions but more depending on if we get paid bids for other competitions,” Kong adds, “The competitions range around the US. The last one, which is Summit and Worlds (the goal of all cheerleaders is to win this), is in Florida.”
Equipped with a lengthy cheerleading career and background in several cheer settings, Kong used her experience to teach and coach children at Glenarden Boys and Girls club in the summer of 2017. Aside from the ability to teach others and spread what she has learned in her many years of cheer, Kong’s participation in both cheer teams has exponentially grown her appreciation for the sport. “I love cheering at the games and showing that cheer is more than just waving poms and jumping around; it’s a real sport.”