Hit, Hit, Hit, Pull Out Another Win

Millard West competition cheer team brings home another National title

Annaliese Punt, News Editor

After winning every competition in their regular season, the Millard West competition cheer team performed their all on Sunday, Feb. 11 and ended up with another National title. The National High School Cheerleading Championship (NHSCC) was held at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, and was also nationally televised on ESPN and ESPN2.

The squad of 17, along with coaches Kelsey Chastain, Stefani Lane and Mykala Keil, left Omaha, Nebraska, a few days before they competed in the Small Varsity Non-Building National Championship. After winning it all last year, they had the confidence to take another trophy back home, but it would take a ton of hard work.

Time was vital. They used every spare hour they had to rehearse their routine and nearly perfect it. While warming up on the lawn, they also got the chance to eye other teams they would be up against, some of which would end up being a huge competitor to them in the following days. A team that won Large Varsity Non-Building last year was now in their division

“I don’t think you could say we thought we were going to win,” junior Tess Ray said. “No matter how good we did this season, there is always a chance that someone could come and blow everyone out of the water.”

The cheer team and their coach hold up 10 fingers, showing how many National titles they have won.
Standing center stage, the group shows off their clean white jackets.

Taking their tough competition as a chance to work even harder, the team decided they were not going to let this title slip from their fingers. Before their final performance, they pumped themselves up by having dance parties with other groups and running through their routines in their heads. By the time they woke up on Sunday, they knew they were going to shock the crowd.

“We knew that we had worked so hard for the past eight months,” senior Kimberlynne Chevalier said. “Now it was just time to show off and win that national title that had been our motivation throughout the whole season.”

As their white tennis shoes hit the blue padded floors and the announcer called their name, the audience went crazy. Being named national champions last year left a lasting impression on the judges and high schools all over.

One, two, three. Pose. Their heartbeats raced through their green and black uniforms and the adrenaline had officially kicked in. Silence filled the room. Then the music started.

With a sort of confidence, the girls went through the motions of the routine they had been practicing for months. They hit each beat, tumbled and attempted to give everyone a run for their money.

“The best part for me was seeing them reach their goal of hitting a clean routine, with no mistakes,” head coach Stefani Lane said. “Their smiles, joy and sense of pride right when they finished was definitely a highlight.”

When they hit their last motion, they knew they had met their goal for the season: a zero deduction routine. Tearing up with smiles still on their faces, the girls waved to the audience who were still applauding them. An abundance of emotions passed through them as they walked off the stage and left their mark behind them.

“When we walked back into the front of the arena, all different teams and coaches were coming up to us telling us how amazing we did,” Chevalier said. “After watching the play back, I agreed with them. There was nothing we could’ve done better.”

Then it was the judges’ turn to make the final call. Sitting on the stage with teams from all over the nation, the girls squeezed each other’s hands. Once it got to the top two, it was between them and their biggest competitor this year: Fairmont High School from Ohio.

Once they heard that name called first, tears of joy came rolling down their cheeks. They had just been named the 2018 Grand Champions.

“Every time you get a new white jacket you get the same amazing feeling you did the first time,” Ray said. “It’s honestly an indescribable feeling just to know that you were the best.”

Grabbing their trophy and white jackets, the girls hopped off stage with a two-peat. News quickly spread all the way back to Omaha, where their school was eagerly waiting to congratulate them in person.

For the tenth year, the Millard West Cheer team would stun the judges and bring their school even more national recognition.