Polish Heritage Night with the Wizards and Cheerleaders Gdynia | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Polish Heritage Night with the Wizards and Cheerleaders Gdynia

Updated: March 14, 2015


Saturday night in the Verizon Center will be all about white and red. The Wizards game against the Kings will also feature the fifth annual Polish Heritage Night, hosted by Marcin Gortat.

Polish Heritage Night is a great opportunity for the American fans to get a glimpse of the Polish culture. For the fans from Poland, it’s the date when they reunite in organized groups and support the only Pole in the NBA together.

Last year, it is estimated that about seven hundred Polish fans participated in the first Polish Heritage Night in D.C.. On the white & red themed night, the Wizards lost to the Bulls. Click to read Adam McGinnis’ coverage of the festivities.

This year should be the biggest Polish Heritage Night yet. To make the night even more special, Marcin got John Wall, Bradley Beal and Nene speaking Polish to invite the fans.


If you are wondering the best Polish speaker is out of these three players, the answer is Bradley Beal, as the English subtitles were not even needed for me to understand what he said.

Meeting Gortat won’t be the only attraction awaiting the participating fans. Last year during Polish Heritage Night, everyone in the Verizon Center was amazed by the performance of the Polish cheerleading group Flex Sopot. This time, Gortat invited the famous group Cheerleaders Gdynia.

Cheerleaders Gdynia is the first cheerleading group from Europe to perform at an NBA game. In 2012 they were invited to Phoenix where they took part in the first ever Polish Heritage Night. Phoenix appreciated them so much that they were asked to stay a bit longer, and performed at one more Suns’ game. Here is the video recap of their trip to Arizona:


In 2011 they won the Euroleague Basketball contest for the best cheerleading group in Europe. Now they not only appear on basketball courts, but also, among many other events, at the Polish National Team’s soccer games.

I spoke with Aleksandra Wójcik (@Olcia85), an Olympian from Athens 2004, and a member of Cheerleaders Gdynia squad, to talk about their preparations for Polish Heritage Night.

Are you going to perform the routines that could be seen in Poland before, or are you planning something special for the fans in Washington as well?

Aleksandra Wójcik: We’ve got two completely new routines designed especially for the Polish Night in Washington. Both of them, in different ways, refer to the Polish culture, both in the way we are dressed, and by the means of music or the colors of accessories. Apart from that, we are going there prepared for more performances. Those are going to be the routines known from the Polish courts.

How are you going to refer to the Polish culture?

Like I said before, in our routines you will be able to find Polish accents, and the white & red color ways will be dominant. We want to show that we are proud of being Polish. For me, as the perennial member of the Polish National Team, it’s even a bigger honor. For so many years I’ve been proudly representing Poland, and now, once again, I can do it abroad.

You’ve already been invited to the USA by Gortat before. What were your impressions from that trip, and has that experience helped you in the preparations to this year’s performance?

Last time Marcin invited us, I couldn’t go, because of some other obligations. Obviously, after they returned, my colleagues shared their impressions with me, so I have a vague picture of how such a game looks like from the floor level. When it comes to the preparations, it’s obviously helpful. We know what to expect, we know the general outline of the game, which is so much different than the one we have in Poland.

Last year, Flex Sopot cheerleaders performed in Washington and they were really appreciated. I understand that you are going to impress the Americans even more.

By no means are we going there to compete with the colleagues of the Sopot squad. We want to present our squad as well as we can. Our routines are a bit different, since we don’t want to replicate the ideas used by our predecessors.

Would you agree that what you’re presenting in Poland is different from the cheerleading in the USA? If so, what kind of differences do you notice?

I’m sure that I would be able to say more about that once we return, but I’ll try to answer this question on the basis of what I noticed while watching the NBA games on TV. The American cheerleading can be divided into two branches. The one presented by the NBA dance teams is closer to the one we have in Poland. But there are some differences as well. First and foremost – the number of routines that NBA dance teams show off. In Europe the squads perform in most if not all of the game breaks. On the other hand, in the NBA there is a huge show, during which many additional things are going on.

The game itself brings a lot of media attention, and gathers multiple times more fans, who spontaneously react to the events on the floor. I’m sure that it will be an unforgettable experience, and one of the greatest ones in my life. I’m a fan of the NBA. I often watch the games at night, so being able to watch it live, in person, is great for me. And if you add the opportunity to perform on the American floor, then it’s a dream come true for me. A dream that seemed unreal just a few years ago.

On the occasion of Cheerleaders Gdynia flying to the United States, the Polish Basketball League released a special promo video. It is definitely worth checking out.

The Wizards will try to get their first ever Polish Heritage Night victory on Saturday, March 14th, at 7 p.m.. Marcin Gortat will face DeMarcus Cousins, who happens to be on Gortat’s list. Marcin averages 17.3 points and 8.6 rebounds on 67% FG on Polish Heritage Nights (he missed the third one, in 2013, due to the injury). The Suns won the first two Polish Heritage Night’s games, but ever since, Gortat’s team hasn’t won on such an occasion.




Bartosz Bielecki on Twitter
Bartosz Bielecki
Polish Correspondent at TAI
Bart is TAI’s Polish correspondent, covering all things Marcin Gortat from the mother country, including transcribing Gortat interviews with Polish media.