A local high school cheerleading team returned home this week national champions — and that return was celebrated memorably by fellow students, teachers, and family members.
The Southwestern High School Cheerleaders were still riding high from their first-ever national championship win when they returned to SWHS Tuesday afternoon with the help of a police and fire escort. The 17 cheerleaders — 12 of whom competed Sunday for the national title — brought home a Universal Cheer Association National Championship trophy.
“This is just amazing to see the school come out and support the girls,” said coach Britani Shoemaker, who has headed the team for eight years. “They (the cheerleaders) support the other teams through the year, so that was neat to see them get that support.”
The front entrance to SWHS was flooded with students holding orange and blue balloons and signs showing everyone’s excitement at the cheerleading team’s first national title win.
As soon as the girls emerged from the bus they’d just spent nearly 12 hours on, they were mobbed by fellow students, teachers and family members, all of whom were proud to say they were a Southwestern Warrior on Tuesday.
“They (the cheerleaders) have worked so hard through ups and downs, and they deserve it,” said Debbie Todd, mother to Keirstyn Correll, a junior on the team, as she fought tears.
SWHS competed this year in the High School Small Varsity Division II. More than 40 teams were placed in that category, which included all-female teams with participants in the 12th grade and below. Teams in that division competed with between five and 12 members and they come from high schools with up to 1,299 students.
Two-time defending national champion Burlington Township High School, from New Jersey, was unseated this year by SWHS. But it wasn’t by much. Shoemaker said judges handed down a combined score of 93.7 to SWHS — a little more than a point above Burlington Township’s score of 92.2.