Updated: Nov 30, 2020
Who doesn't love back to back World Champions Top Gun Double O out of Miami, Florida? That's right! This month we catch up with TGLC alumni and current Double O athlete, Justin Palermo!
OS: So Justin, can you tell us a bit about yourself? When did you start cheerleading and what got you into the sport?
J: I started cheer when I was 15, a girl at my high school saw me tumbling one day (doing raggedy back handsprings...) and brought me with her to her practice at World Cup in New Jersey. I had a janky full that I taught myself in my front lawn... but they saw potential so they placed me on a level 5 team!
OS: Fast track to now and you're a World Champion! I bet you only ever dreamt of that day. What did it take to get to that level and achieve that goal?
J: A lot of growth mentality when it comes to cheer. My attitude changed completely going from a senior team to an International team and I think that was a huge part that led to myself being successful on a Worlds winning team.
OS: Along with the incredible routines, Double O has had some show stopping themes throughout the last few seasons. Who comes up with the theme for the year?
J: We all do! It's mainly the coaches that come up with ideas but we all collaborate.
OS: That's so awesome! Do you have any inside scoop of what the theme may be for Double O next season?
J: I actually have no idea what the theme will be or if we'll even have one honestly!
OS: Well we can't wait to see what the upcoming season has in store.
OS: What is your favourite/most memorable year of cheerleading?
J: 2017. This was my first year at Top Gun and it was the most legendary, iconic team (TGLC) I've ever been on. Everything about that season was a dream come true.
OS: So what tempted you to make that move to Top Gun from World Cup?
J: I was 17 when I moved. It was my senior year of high school! I wanted to be apart of the best. I was watching the 2015 TG Showcase and just knew that I wanted to be a part of Top Gun one day.
OS: Do you ever have any regrets moving so far away from your home?
J: It was the best decisions I've ever made. I have no regrets at all.
OS:What is your favourite competition?
J: NCA!!!! I love being able to see all my friends from around the country without the stress of it being Worlds. I also have a super good track record with NCA so I think that might also be why :P
OS: So tell us... how many times have you won NCA?
J: I've won NCA 3 times and placed 2nd the other 2 times I've competed.
OS: That sure is something to be proud of.
Will you get another chance to compete at NCA? What are your plans for the future?
J: I am cheering again this season. I'm fortunate enough to have a job which allows me to fit cheerleading into my schedule so I'm going to be cheering until my body can't anymore lol.
OS: Just quickly back to the Worlds topic - like yourself, hundreds and thousands of cheerleaders dream of becoming a World Champion. To give them some motivation can you explain what it felt like to hear your team name get called out in first place?
J: I can't even begin to describe it... I had never won Worlds before so just knowing that I WAS a World Champ and now will never not be a World Champ is the most amazing feeling ever.
OS: Do you have any other inspiring words to help athletes achieve their goals?
J: Your mentality is the most important part of anything you do in life!!!! I know that is a very cliche thing to say but it's SO true!
OS: How can athletes improve their mentality when it comes to cheerleading? Especially in a full out when the mind starts taking over and telling you it's 'too hard' or you're 'too tired', how do you overcome that state of mind?
J: I'm not an expert but the things that have worked for me are when I'm going full out, I get to a point where I feel like my arms or legs are numb and I can't give everything I have for the next section then I realise this is all in my head!!! Tell yourself that it doesn't matter! You give everything you have no matter what you have left in you. Once you do that, you realise that the hardest part of cheerleading is mind over matter. Once you understand that concept you're able to push yourself further and further every time.
OS: Love that answer. It's something that all cheerleaders should try to understand to help them reach their full potential. Everyone is always capable of more!
OS: Before we finish up, I'm sure everyone would love to know what your favourite uniform is... after all, you've had some very iconic uniforms throughout your cheer journey so far! J: Omg, good question. I would have to say TGLC Worlds 2017 day 2 uni and the Double O Cop uniform from this past season has to top them all! OS: It's definitely hard to pick just one! We love them all!
Thank you so much for your time, Justin! We had so much fun and we wish you all the best for your seasons to come!