M-C cheerleader named to All-American Team for second straight year

Mabel-Canton cheerleader Katelyn Kleiboer shows her excitement in front of the castle at Walt Disney World during her appearance with the Varsity Spirit Spectacular in December. PHOTO COURTESY OF HEATHER KLEIBOER
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Being named to an All-American Cheer Team is quite an honor. Being named to the elite squad for a second straight year is an even more impressive feat. But being named to the All-American Cheer Team as a freshman and as a sophomore in high school (with two more years remaining) is oh, so amazing.

But that’s just what Mabel-Canton sophomore Katelyn Kleiboer recently did. The daughter of Michael and Heather Kleiboer of Mabel was the only high school student from Minnesota to be named to the Fourth Annual Varsity Spirit Spectacular at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. Katelyn was one of more than 800 high school cheerleaders and dancers from 42 states who participated in the event, which took place from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2.

“It was an incredible honor to be named last year, but to repeat this year was that much more special,” Katelyn said.

Katelyn performed in a pre-parade performance at Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park before of thousands of fans, which she said was a blast. And then she and her fellow cheerleaders and dancers got to lead the parade through the Magic Kingdom.

To get named to the Varsity Spirit Spectacular, candidates must attend a cheer or dance camp. Last year the camp was held in Lansing, Iowa. Just a freshman, Katelyn performed well enough to be named All-American and made her first trip to Orlando in 2017. This past summer, the camp was held at the University of Iowa, Cedar Falls. 

“I had a great time last year, but didn’t do as well as this year. Last year, I was placed in the middle of the pack. This year I received a better score from the judges and was in the third row,” she explained. “It really was something leading the parade through the Magic Kingdom.”

Katelyn explained that the contestants at dance camp are judged on a number of different cheerleading disciplines, including motions, tumbling, jumps, leadership and dance. The judges sit on one side of the large gym and the girls go through their routines. “It was quite daunting,” she noted.

Once all the girls have performed before the judges, those being named All-American are announced.

Those advancing to Florida are sent a video with the music, the moves, formations and cheers a month prior to the performance. The participants memorize their routines and then have two days to practice with the massive group once they are in Florida. Katelyn said they practiced for about five hours the first day and two the second. Then came the big day of the pre-parade performance and the parade.

Katelyn reported that the weather was chilly and rainy the first two days, but the sun came out and warmed things up for performance day. The group also had a day to enjoy the sights and attraction of the Magic Kingdom.

Katelyn met cheerleaders from as far away as Alaska and made friends from the east to west coast. She said it was a great experience and because this was her second trip, she was able to help show the new girls the ropes.

While Katelyn was the only participant from Minnesota, her mother, Heather, is the M-C cheer coach and was able to attend the event with her daughter.

“It was really great having my mother with me, and for the second year,” Katelyn said.

“I hope to be able to continue bringing my cheerleaders to this event,” Heather told John Calitri of Varsity Spirit. “It is such a great experience to show the world that the hard work is worth it, and you can achieve anything if you dream big. I am very proud of Katelyn. She worked very hard to be nominated for the All American Team at camp to qualify, and she takes these special events and opportunities very seriously. Being a good role model is very important to her, and she loves this sport.”