A few weeks ago, JAMZ brought Cheer Theory to Las Vegas for their annual Worlds and D1 Nationals. If you’re unfamiliar with JAMZ, they’re the largest independent all-star cheerleading event producer. They offer a lot more than an all-star cheerleading national championship and Cheerleading Worlds bids. From summer camps to dance nationals to high school cheer nationals – they’re a full-fledged operation.
This was the first time I had personally attended JAMZ Nationals, and let me be the first to tell you that it was TRULY an experience. I attend quite a few cheerleading competitions and have a pretty good idea of what makes a competition good, and what makes a competition, um, not great. I’m happy to report that JAMZ Nationals was fantastic.
A Grade-A Venue
JAMZ holds all of their national championship events in the New Orleans Arena, a 10,000 seat arena with stadium seating in Las Vegas, Nevada – located directly off The Strip. The NUMBER ONE problem with most cheerleading competitions (and I imagine dance competitions too) is the spectators’ viewing experience.
JAMZ sets up their stage in the back of the arena floor, which allows for literally thousands of people to sit in front of and around the competition stage. I cannot stress enough how much of a difference arena seating makes for literally everyone. It’s a better viewing experience for parents and fans AND a better performing experience for athletes. Athletes can perform looking out and up instead of out and down and that is huge. I would say, all the little details matter, but this is a huge detail and I truly wish more competitions were in arenas or at least had bleacher seating.
Not only is the stage and venue great, but every athlete gets to experience it. JAMZ offers the same performance experience to all athletes, regardless of their level or age. They’ve created several different events that happen back-to-back to accommodate each athlete and team. The stage is fun, brightly lit, and well designed. It’s fun for both athletes and spectators.
Pro tip: pay attention to how well lit a competition’s performance floor is. Are all of the panels appropriately lit or are there dark spots? It’ll give you huge insight into how much attention they’ve given to the details of the performance experience.
All the Extras Make Them Stand Out
There were a handful of extras that really helped JAMZ set themselves apart:
- The JAMZ Staff is everywhere, running around in matching uniforms – escorting teams to warm-ups, sitting on the side of the stage, and just about everywhere else.
- The announcers were awesome and engaged with the crowd. You could tell they had a solid relationship with the event staff by the way they interacted, and that too made a huge difference.
- The competition ran on time – huge plus
- They released both day 1 AND final scores to us. Y’all know we live for scoring transparency 😉
- They allowed EVERYONE to post videos. Amazing. Truly.
An Unmatched Awards Ceremony
The cherry on top of JAMZ Nationals 2018 was the epic awards ceremony. I’d heard a lot about these JAMZ awards ceremonies – high energy – a show – someone once referred to it as a variety show – and honestly, it’s worth the hype.
By the end of the competition, athletes, parents, spectators, staff, and everyone else involved is exhausted. But as soon as JAMZ flipped the Awards Ceremony switch “on”, the energy in the arena skyrocketed. The JAMZ staff took the stage and started flipping, dancing, and jumping to some dank music.
They dragged a giant red armchair to the center and the announcer ran through the results and called the new National Champions to the stage. During this entire hour-plus long awards ceremony, the staff was flipping over photographers, jumping in pictures with the newly crowned champions, and dancing on raised blocks.
Honestly, I have NEVER seen anything like it. Awards usually involve some staff coming out and throwing beads and other paraphernalia to the crowd, announcing some winners, and calling it a day. Not at JAMZ. After spending countless hours at home in the gym preparing and many hours at the competition – you deserve a little something back, and JAMZ is there to provide it.
After two 12-hour days in the arena, it was the perfect way to finish out the competition. Their staff is hilarious and talented – and social media agreed. Maybe it was because I was so tuned in to JAMZ’s social efforts that weekend, but I rarely see so many people praising an event for how well it ran, how friendly the staff was, and what an enjoyable experience the whole event had been.
Disclaimer: JAMZ paid Cheer Theory to attend this event.