By Cat Weeden
Published April 18, 2022
We have all waited 3 LONG years for the return of “The True Worlds Experience.” 3 long years for international teams to return. 3 long years for the fans to sit from sunup to sundown to watch the best of the best duke it out one last time.
After the 2020 Worlds was canceled (understandably), we were all grateful to be back in action in 2021. But the experience was just not the same. There were hardly any spectators, most teams only competed in person 2-3 times leading up to the World Championships and there was a noticeable absence of international teams. It was an all-around strange year, but man, were we so thankful to be back in Orlando.
For the first time since 2018-2019, we all experienced a real competitive season. Albeit, a very strange regular season, but we all competed multiple times, the biggest and best events were back in person (NCA, Jamfest, and Jamz) and our kids returned fully to the sport they love. Beyond these factors, there was an extra magical air to this season. The addition and mystery of the Limited All Girl and Coed Worlds Divisions.
The 2022 World Championships will feature 3 NEW division offerings for US Based Teams, Limited XS/SM Sr 6, Limited XS Coed and Limited Sm Coed 6. For your team to have qualified for these divisions, you must meet 3 standards:
Any team participating in Limited must be your brand’s ONLY worlds team.
Your Team must be a Senior Club Level U.S. Based team
22 or less members.
These divisions are not exclusionary of any size gym, as long as you meet the three requirements, you’re in.
The History of How we got here
During the 2017 D2 Summit, USASF announced the addition of the XS worlds division. The parameters to participate were that you had to have only 1 Worlds team under your brand, and your team had to be 14 participants or less. At the time, the smallest worlds division size was “small” which was up to 20 athletes. For a smaller Worlds gym that had approx 75-125 athletes, having 20 Worlds athletes would mean that approx 20-45% of their program would need to be Worlds athletes in order to field these teams. The max number of 14 was an opportunity that created positive ripples in the small gym community for years.
That very first year of XS was MAGICAL. There was a sense of hope that we had never felt before on the world side. We would have the ability to compete on the Worlds stage, in a division that was more realistically attainable for Smaller D1 and D2 gyms. We were in regular season divisions of other teams that looked like us and were developmentally at the same place as us.
We had 1 year. One fantastic, magical, wonderful year of this division with the limitations for participation. By the end of the season the gyms with more than 1 Worlds team made a full court press to not be excluded from Extra Small. At the time it was devastating for the division to be opened to everyone. In retrospect, the mistake was that it was a new SIZE category and that the option to field smaller teams SHOULD have been inclusive of everyone.
Since the inclusion of Extra Small, Non-Tumbling Coed and All girl, Senior Open Small Coed and All girl, Senior Open Large Coed, Int Small Coed and numerous other divisions have been adopted by Worlds. Each division added serves a purpose and helps bridge gaps in the World’s fabric.
Over the last 4 years, the Worlds dynamic has drastically changed. There are no longer 50+ teams in Small Coed and All girl. Large Senior and Large Senior Coed remain the title divisions of the championships, but they are dramatically smaller in size. Non-Tumbling and Senior Open Small Coed have EXPLODED in the US and Extra Small has taken its place as the largest coed and all girl club divisions at Worlds.
While divisions have been continuously created to fill gaps, there hasn’t been anymore regard to the creation of divisions that are focused on further developing the Worlds opportunity amongst all types of gyms. What we do know is that according to USASF, D2 gyms are approximately 83% of the allstar gym industry. Yes, you read that correctly – at least 83%. We know that this number is probably TOO LOW based solely on the amount of D2 gyms that do not participate in USASF, so that number is probably closer to 92%, conservatively.
We had divisions for athletes over 18 (Open/ Int Open), for club teams of different sizes (Extra Small, Small, Medium and Large), for Athletes that do not tumble, but still deserve the right to participate (Non-Tumbling all girl and coed) and if you look at the international spectrum, they have many more additional options that are direct reflections of the everchanging allstar landscape. However, no division for gyms that reflect possibly 92% of the industry… It didn’t make sense.
During the USASF National meeting in Charlotte, the Limited divisions were brought for discussion, and were overwhelmingly agreed upon by D2 and D1 gyms in attendance. There would be no gym size limitations on them, anyone could participate, and they would not be a new exclusionary size category. The idea would be that while for the 21-22 season they would not be stand-alone divisions, they would be their own divisions for the World Championships. Mid-Summer the divisions were made official.
The Mystery Surrounding Limited
Since Limited was not a stand-alone division in 21-22, no one really KNEW who would participate in the divisions at Worlds. Would teams that qualify, but have had success in the standard divisions choose to stay in the standard divisions or would they participate in Limited? There have been many assumptions, guesses and predictions about who would be in the divisions, but up until last week, no one knew for sure.
That mystery has been nerve wracking, but also very exciting. By not having to declare until you registered for the World Championships, no one really knew what these divisions would look like. Now that the first Worlds schedule has been released. We now know that Limited has not only been well received by D2 gyms, but even more by the D1 gyms that qualify. This was absolutely the hope. We have previous World Champion Teams, many Worlds Finalist teams, and teams that have been right outside of the podium for years.
Limited by the Numbers
(As of 4/18, The numbers are anticipated to grow since some teams are not classified correctly)
The Future of Limited
The future of Limited is currently up in the air, with USASF commenting that they would like to see what participation at Worlds looks like and how the division goes next weekend. There are many more questions hanging in the air about Limited’s future, but I think it’s fair of USASF to wait until after its first run to decide its long-term fate.
Will Limited be back at Worlds 2023?
Based on 2022 Worlds participation alone, I would call this a YES. With at least 40 teams participating, 13 Paid Bids and many more teams already declaring that they will be out of Open divisions to participate next season, I think there is no way Limited disappears for 2023 Worlds.
Will Limited become a Standalone Division for the 2022-23 Season?
This is up in the air. I think the mystery surrounding Limited and its participants was fun this year, but going into Worlds, there were a lot of teams that were classified and listed in wrong divisions on the first schedule. Some didn’t note Limited on registration and believed it would automatically populate them into the division, so it’s not really at the fault of USASF. However, this would be an easier process if we were ‘Limited’ all year. Also, there is value in competing against the correct teams all year and not only seeing your competitors at Worlds. If it isn’t granted stand-alone division status next season, which it should, it should at least become a Division Split that EP’s are allowed to use.
Does the inclusion of Limited dilute Worlds?
No. While it feels like there are so many Worlds Divisions and Champions, the reality is that the number of teams that participate at Worlds represent less than 3-5% of the TOTAL membership of allstar cheer. The World Champs, even with 40 divisions, are less than the top 1% of active allstars. Back when there was one All Girl and one Coed winner, allstar was dramatically smaller. The participation has exponentially grown at a rate that called for more divisions and levels. If you are strong enough to take down 17 other teams in Limited All Girl 6, you have earned the right to the World Championship Title.
Should franchises be allowed to participate in Limited?
In my opinion, no. The division has specific qualifications around it and within those parameters the division is already alive and well and could double in size within the next year. Even though some franchises are smaller in size, they are still a part of very successful brands, and they still have many options for divisions without the ability to participate in Limited. There are many benefits to being a part of a strong national brand, but there are also drawbacks, and to me this is one of them. This division is about development in the same way Non-Tumbling is about offering a division to kids who are not strong tumblers.
Is Limited a Fast Track to the Podium?
We have divisions at Worlds where you wake up as AT LEAST a Bronze Worlds Medalist. Or you must take down 1 team to Globe. Take it, these are the most talented, best coached, most storied, and outright toughest divisions of Worlds, but that doesn’t change the stats. Whoever wins Large coed, has to move mountains to do it, and they deserve every second of glory and infamy for doing it. With the Limited divisions already being second largest in club division size, I would go as far as to say that these divisions are legitimate, hard and going to be unpredictable.
Not Everyone Should be able to Compete at Worlds?
Are you the Worlds gatekeeper? Am I? Is your mom? No none of us are. And again, less than 3% of the industry gets to even compete. No one behind a keyboard, a screen, a group text or behind nasty comments gets to decide who can participate, USASF does. You get a bid or you don’t. You go and hit or you don’t.
Who are the Front Runners for Limited?
That’s the best part of these divisions, IT’S ANYONE’S GAME. When was the last time a Worlds Division felt like that?
My final thoughts on Limited
I hope every team in the 3 divisions go out this weekend and performs the routine of a lifetime. I hope any given day the best team of that day wins. I hope that every kid who has waited their turn to compete at Worlds, in their home gym uniform, lives the dream this weekend. I mostly hope that the MAGIC we found 4 seasons ago lives on through Limited.