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Minnesota Jets Compete At Nationals

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

[Big Lake, MN 3/12/2023] – [Minnesota Jets] is proud to announce that in their first year, they were able to defy the odds. After earning a bid in December to attend Nationals, the Thunderbolts team competed on 3/10/23 and 3/11/23, hitting both performances with zero deductions and earning a Championship Title.

Road To Success The Minnesota Jets is a youth association (Nonprofit Organization) whose mission is to create opportunities that offer and support cheerleading for all throughout Central Minnesota. Founded in August, 2022, the youth association formed the Thunderbolts team with the goal to offer competitive cheerleading opportunities to Middle School and High School aged students. With 24 students on the team, 2/3 of the Thunderbolts had no prior cheerleading experience. Practicing once a week, the team learned their routine following a 12hour choreography day. The team worked hard and cheerleaders did their best to come together as a team, and learn the skills necessary to be competitive. During October, changes were made to the routine to accommodate the diverse skill levels being developed, and to ensure safety of all involved. In December, the Minnesota Jets Thunderbolts traveled to Milwaukee Wisconsin, where they competed at a UCA Regional Event. To the overwhelming shock of everyone, especially the cheerleaders, they earned a bid (invitation) to Nationals, hosted 3/10/23-3/11/23 at Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL. The Quest is a National Championship for recreation cheerleading programs like the Minnesota Jets. Hundreds of teams competed at various events throughout the United States, seeking the coveted bid to Nationals, and only those that made the minimum score, and met specific expectations of judges would earn a bid. “In 7 years of coaching cheerleading, this was the first time I have seen an entire team collapse on the mat following a performance, because they literally gave everything. It was incredible, and at that moment I knew something special had been achieved with this team” says Derek Nelson, Coaching Director and Head Coach of the Minnesota Jets - Thunderbolts From February through March, the Thunderbolt team pushed harder than ever to advance their routine, push boundaries, and obtain a new performance routine that was nationals ready. Through illnesses, non-cheer related injuries, and other canceled practices due to the weather, the cheerleaders learned a new routine that included new stunts, tumbling passes, positions, and dance!

Earning A Title As this Minnesota Jets team arrived in Florida on March 8 th , anxiety was high. Though the new routine was learned in time, the cheerleaders had yet to perform their routine with the entire team together, and with the new jumps, stunts, and dance! Just like these incredible youth did throughout the year, they set aside the stress and focused on what made this team a family. They poured their hearts into the energy and attitude needed to succeed, resulting in the team coming together like never before.

On March 10th , for the very first time, while during warmups before the first performance, the team performed the entirety of the routine with all members present. It was rough, and there was definitely a moment where the athletes felt overwhelmed by the reality they were about to perform. But, the Captains rallied their team, and within moments, you could hear the laughter, joy, and excitement of a family about to show the world what cheerleading meant to them. And, like a scene from a movie, the cheerleaders poured everything they had into their performance, earning a second place in semifinals in the Level 2.1 Traditional Recreation 10yo-18yo (Non/Aff) division. The team celebrated this incredible success, but that paled in comparison to the celebration that followed when the coaches announced that the team HIT ZERO, meaning there was ZERO deductions, a rare and time honored achievement in the world of cheer.

“When we walked into warmups on the first day, it was like it hit everyone what we were actually doing, and it was so cool to see everyone get so into the routine in a way hadn’t before” Lilly St. Jean, Senior Captain, Minnesota Jets - Thunderbolts

On March 11th , the team came together once more to compete in the final round of the Level 2.1 Traditional Recreation 10yo-18yo (Non/Aff) division. The cheerleaders walked in with a never-beforeseen level of high energy in preparation for this performance, and the coaches were humbled by how these youth cared for each other, while also pushing their limits and skills to the max. Following what was an incredible and emotional final performance for this team, they learned that once again, they had HIT ZERO, being one of 16 teams in the competition to do so TWICE and taking FIRST PLACE in the final round of their division, and second place in the overall Level 2.1 Traditional Recreation category! That evening, the award ceremony was held, and as the inaugural year of the Minnesota Jets ended, it did so in wave of emotions, excitement, and celebration as the Minnesota Jets were named Champions. The Minnesota Jets had achieved incredible achievements on a stage that felt so far out of reach just months prior.

Cheerleading In Central Minnesota

Cheerleading is about being a part of something greater than yourself. We see this with our Minnesota Jets cheerleaders, their families, and the legacy that is formed within each team that makes up such an incredible program. The Minnesota Jets promotes a sense of community, achievement, and promotes positive self-esteem for all involved. This is accomplished through opportunities for students aged 18 and younger, by providing access to equipment, facilities, and training that exceed expectations, and fosters an atmosphere where integrity, inclusiveness, accountability, and respect are valued. Uniforms and bows do not make the cheerleader; those are merely the branding of something far more amazing.

Registration for Open Classes, Private Lessons, and of course, the next Competitive Season are open! More information can be found at or by emailing

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