Win or lose, the 12 girls on Soddy-Daisy High School's cheerleading squad are there to cheer on their fellow Trojans. This time it's a win they're celebrating — and it's their own.
The school's competitive cheerleading squad landed first place in the National Cheerleaders Association's High School Nationals this January. It marks the fourth year in a row the team has clinched the competition, which welcomed nearly 200 teams from across the country this year.
Soddy-Daisy's squad ranked first in the "intermediate small" division. The squad also won the Herkie High Point award for having the highest score of all intermediate teams regardless of size, an honor given to just three teams.
This is the first time the squad has won the Herkie award, said Anita Newsom, head coach along with Bree Johnson. There were tears of joy that day, Newsom said.
"That's always been a goal of mine, and I know it's been a goal of [the team], but it always seemed unattainable," she said. "Now that's the goal for every year."
Being sharp and clean in their performance and maxing out their tumbling scores has been what sets the team apart, said Newsom. This year was a little different, however, as the team tried to boost its scores in the cheer category while maintaining its high tumbling scores.
It took months of fine-tuning to get the routine right, but all the training paid off. The team scored the highest number of points not only in tumbling, but in the cheer category as well, Newsom said.
This upcoming season will be Newsom's ninth year coaching competitive cheer and fifth year at SDHS. Before that, she spent four years coaching at Loftis Middle School. Some of this year's seniors have been a part of her team for six years and never lost a national competition, and she could not be more proud of the girls, she said.
Newsom said she feels like a mother to these girls and is proud of them not only for their cheer success, but for the well-rounded people they've grown to be. Six of the 12 girls on the squad have a GPA of 4.0 or higher, Newsom said, and they often do community service.
"To be able to excel at all of that makes this team even more special," she said.
Newsom thanks the parents for raising such remarkable girls, as well as the administration and the community for supporting the team and helping raise the money needed to get the team to Dallas, where the national competition was.
"We're making a name for Soddy-Daisy in California and Hawaii, across the country," said Newsom.
Email Carson Cook at email@example.com.