Many varsity and competitive athletes dedicate most of their time to a sport due to wanting to perfect it.
In Joey Zielsdorf’s case, he has spent the past eight to nine years dedicating his life to the sport of all-star cheer.
“I got my introduction to flipping sports in Trampoline & Tumbling at the age of 10. There was a tumbling coach at the time that worked with me here and there until the age of 13. He then asked me to join the cheer program,” Zielsdorf said.
“At first, I was hesitant, however a lot of my friends in the gym began to transition to the cheer program. Once I got on the cheer side I was hooked,” he added.
Like Jenee Cruise, Zielsdorf has competed on both the California All-Stars Smoed and Reckless.
“After a couple years of attending worlds it finally came to a point where the gym I was currently at was not taking the sport as seriously as I wanted. My parents got into contact with Kiara Nowlin’s (a fellow Smoed teammate) parents to ask some questions,” Zielsdorf said.
“This was done without my knowledge. A couple days later they asked if I wanted to join The California Allstars. And the rest is history,” he added.
While on Smoed, Zielsdorf won two World Championships back to back from 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.
“The most memorable moment while competing on Smoed for me was in 2013. Thinking we had lost Worlds that year, we came home with the title,” Zielsdorf reminisced.
“The exact moment that is memorable for me was a moment where I was carrying the globe from the stage in the HP Fieldhouse to the opposite end of the building to exit. During this brief walk it hit me that I wouldn’t ever get to compete with my team again,” he added.
Following the 2013 Smoed Worlds win, Zielsdorf aged out of the team due to being 18 years old.
“The thing I miss most about competing on Smoed is the feeling of accomplishment. The amount of work and time put in to each two minute and thirty second routine really came to fruition when my teammates and I would accomplish each goal we had in mind,” Zielsdorf said about what he misses the most about Smoed.
“Not only were the big victories our accomplishments, but overcoming small obstacles before the big show that allowed for what the people saw at competitions, really provided that sense of accomplishing great things,” he added.
For a few years after leaving Smoed, Zielsdorf went to college. Then, for the 2018-19 season, he joined Reckless, reuniting with former teammates Cruise, Malia Martinez, Jazmine Sanchez, and Kira Shutt.
“Deciding to join Reckless wasn’t an easy decision for myself. I found myself caught between coaching and wanting to be an athlete again. Ultimately my final decision to join Reckless was decided by my wanting to be coached by not only Eddie Rios, but Orby Orta,” Zielsdorf said about his decision to join Reckless.
“I had spent so much time in the gym with Orby but had not really gotten the chance to have him be my head coach. So, all things aside happening in my life that made me feel like I couldn’t be on the team I had set aside to be coached by Orby,” he added.
With his decision to join Reckless, Zielsdorf would eventually win the 2019 World Championship of All-Star Cheerleading, once again becoming a world champion.
“My most memorable moment being on Reckless can’t really be put into a moment. This was by far one of the more memorable seasons I have had cheering. But if I was forced to pick, the most memorable moment was our Worlds day 2 performance,” Zielsdorf said.
Like many athletes, Zielsdorf has faced challenges throughout his life. The biggest being the year he lost his brother to suicide.
“It took me about a week to get back into the gym, which everyone thought was very fast, but the gym was a place I really needed to be. That 2012 season ended up being one of the best I had experienced,” Zielsdorf said.
Due to the challenges he has faced, the escape in to the cheer gym has allowed Zielsdorf to grow as an athlete due to all of his coaches’ inspirations.
“Each coach I have had in my life has taught me some life lesson. Each one coming at the right time for where I was at in life. More than just life lessons, when I joined Cali, there was a new sense of strength and confidence I never thought I could reach,” Zielsdorf said.
“My time at The California Allstars could be described as some of the most inspiring years of my life because of each of the coaches I was lucky enough to have,” he added.
Due to all his time spent in the cheer gym and around all his coaches, Zielsdorf has learned many lessons that will lead him into life after cheer.
“Anything is accomplishable if you are passionate enough to put in the work it takes to achieve that goal,” Zielsdorf said.