They’ve never ventured much beyond North America.
A cruise to Mexico three years ago was the only time they ever traveled to another country.
“We’ve only been on a plane twice,” senior Aleeya Mitsch said.
But that will change this coming winter break for Mitsch and her sister, sophomore Lyndsey Mitsch.
The two qualified for and accepted an invitation to travel more than 6,000 miles to Rome to perform a cheer routine with other U.S. cheerleaders on New Year’s Day.
“When I found out, I was so happy that my sister and I actually started crying,” the younger sister said. “It’s [my sister’s] senior year, and she was accepted, so it’s really cool that we get to do something like this together before she leaves for college.”
Besides the opportunity to perform in the streets of Rome, Aleeya Mitsch looks forward to visiting the various tourist attractions — the Vatican, the Coliseum — that she had only read about in books or watched online.
“From what I’ve heard, it seems like a super, happy and open [atmosphere],” the older sibling said. “I would have just an amazing time; it’s another culture for me to experience.”
The sisters said they auditioned to perform in Rome during Sunny Hills’ cheer camp July 31 to Aug. 3 at Garden Grove’s Great Wolf Lodge.
Sponsored by the United Spirit Association, the event consists of staff who teach participants three cheers on the first day and then a dance routine, Aleeya Mitsch said. It’s up to each cheerleader whether to sign up to audition for the overseas New Year’s Day opportunity.
On the eve of the last camp day, United Spirit Association officials judge those who signed up based on what they were taught, she said.
“It’s a review,” said Aleeya Mitsch, who also auditioned last year but did not get invited to perform overseas. “[The judges] ask you to do the dance and a couple of the cheer jumps.”
Finally, applicants have to perform their favorite of the three cheers they had learned during cheer camp, she said.
The Mitsch sisters and the other candidates — 12 in total from Sunny Hills — had to wait until the next day — the last day of cheer camp — to find out whether they qualified during an awards ceremony.
First-year cheer coach Elizabeth Meija had nothing but praise for the two girls.
“This is such an amazing opportunity for the Mitsch sisters because they will be with some of the best cheerleaders in the nation,” Meija said. “They will be learning and growing their cheer experience, all the while experiencing some of the world’s treasures.
“I have faith that both of these girls will bring great pride to Sunny Hills High School.”
In the months following cheer camp, the Mitsch sisters will also have to raise the funds to pay for the $3,000 per person cost of the Dec. 26 to Jan. 2 trip, which covers air fare, hotel stay and meals twice a day, Aleeya Mitsch said.
“We’re saving up,” the older sister said, adding that she plans to cut back on eating out and going to concerts.
In the meantime, they are awaiting further instructions for what their New Year’s Day parade routine will be like.
“They send us a video of the dance, and we learn it at home and then when we go to the practice [in Rome],” Aleeya Mitsch said. “We go over it and review spacing and stuff.”
Though their cheer coach will not be accompanying them on this trip, the Mitsches’ parents and relatives have planned to join them as part of their own vacation to Italy’s capital.
“I am really looking forward to eating all the different [Italian] food,” Lyndsey Mitsch said. “My parents have been talking about all the dishes they want to try for the past month.”
And since the Mitsch sisters will visit the Vatican some time after Christmas Day, they might have a chance to catch a glimpse of the pope.
“It’d be awesome to see him,” Aleeya Mitsch said.