Three members of the UCF cheerleading squad won gold while representing Team USA at the International Cheer Union’s World Cheerleading Championships on April 26.

Ashlyn Heeter, Jay Hollman and Anthony DiCiccio ’18 competed for USA’s National Coed Premier Team, which is comprised of the most talented female and male cheerleaders in America. The three Knights were the only athletes from a Florida university on the roster.

More than 80 countries and 3,000 athletes from around the globe participated in several categories at the championships, which were held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. Team USA, Canada and Chinese Taipei rounded out the top three finishers in the coed premier finals competition.

“Cheerleading is an amazing sport but this opportunity really showed me what it’s like to be a part of something bigger than the sport itself,” Heeter says. “All coming together as a family and coming from different schools, some even being our rivals, really shows how we all share the same love and passion for the same sport.”

The trio earned their spots on Team USA back in January shortly after helping lead UCF to its 24th top-10 finish in the UCA Division IA National Championship.

DiCicco earned his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies in December, and Hollman will walk across the stage at Addition Financial Arena this weekend to accept his diploma in sport and exercise science. Heeter expects to graduate during the summer with her degree in health informatics and information management.

“Of course I am so proud of and happy for Ashlyn, Anthony and Jay and what they were able to accomplish on Friday night,” UCF head coach Linda Gooch ’85 says. “Could there be anything better than representing our country and bringing home a world championship?

“The fact that three of the 24 members of the USA team came from UCF definitely showed the respect our programs garners from those in the cheerleading world. Then for these three to be given the most elite positions and responsibilities in the routine — they were in literally every element of the performance — showed the confidence that the coaches had that our team members would get it done. It was very gratifying.”