It was a familiar scene during the first week of practice for the Cape Coral Junior Pop Warner football program. Kids huddled in the locker room, waiting for the lightning to stop.
It never did, putting an end to what was supposed to be the first day in pads.
It wasn't exactly a small setback. Teams have roughly one week to be ready for the annual Jamboree on Aug. 17 at Cape Youth's Storms Complex, where the Cape teams play Port Charlotte, Charlotte and North Fort Myers.
Last season was a very successful one for all the Cape area teams. North Fort Myers won the Peace River Conference Division 2 Junior Pee-Wee and Pee-Wee championships, Cape Youth's Junior Midget and Midget teams were conference champs in Division 2, and Cape Junior captured the Division 1 Junior Midget title.
That says nothing for how well the cheer programs did.
Hope springs eternal for this year's program at Cape Junior, where president Jay Taylor believes all his teams, football and cheer, will continue its winning ways against the best the tough conference has to offer.
"Things are going well. The rain has hurt us, but we're getting through that," Taylor said. "Kidwise, everybody is excited about this year."
The numbers are a little down this season from last, mostly because of lower numbers in cheer. The association expects about 415 kids this season as opposed to about 450 last season.
Junior will have two Tiny-Mite and two Mighty-Mite teams, which throws a wrench into scheduling, Taylor said, but isn't necessarily a bad problem to have, since the games are non-competitive.
Cape Youth also has two Tiny-Mite and Mighty-Mite teams, with every other team but the Midgets at or near the maximum of 35 players. Add another 144 cheerleaders and enrollment is at 380.
Association president Todd Williams is very excited for another successful season.
"I feel all teams are really strong this year. It will be interesting still in Division 2," Williams said.
The cheer squads had much to cheer about last year after its squads won national championships at the Pee-Wee and Midget levels, with the Cobias, Cudas and Sharks all placing in the top four nationally.
Unlike football, where teams can fight another day, the cheer squads' season comes down to one 2 1/2-minute routine. Go on or go home.
With maybe the best cheer program in the country, cheer coordinators Doti Reynolds and Pearlessa Curr know it will be difficult to produce an encore. So, they are going to start from scratch, even at the higher levels.
"We have 165 cheerleaders and we're doing the basics. We're learning everything again. The parents are excited, the girls are excited, and we're working hard," said Reynolds, who coaches the Midgets. "We have returners and we have new girls, so we're teaching everyone the right way to do it."
Cape Youth didn't do so shabby either. The Thunder and Tornado cheer, Pee-Wee and Junior Midget, respectively, placed in the top 10 nationally, while the senior Twister Dance placed fourth in the nation.
Williams said the future looks bright with a huge influx of young cheerleaders.
"We have a lot of young cheerleaders. Our Tiney-Mite team has 25 girls when last year it was pretty low," Williams said. "It's a pleasant surprise. The economy must be getting better."