by Sofia Colignon | staff writer
For the third time in a row, the Johnson High School Cheer team took home the trophy after winning the annual University Interscholastic League (UIL) spirit competition on Jan 13. The cheerleaders had been preparing for this competition since August, perfecting their routine every day.
“Personally, this was a reward [after] a lot of hard work and dedication, because we worked really hard since we got our routine in August; we worked until January, so we [practiced] for a long time, and they were long practices, hard practices, and we just poured our hearts on the floor, and were really motivated; we love the sport and we love each other, so it really just payed off”, junior Gabriella Blanchard said.
The competition starts with three preliminary rounds, which consist of three different categories: Band dance, Fight song, and Cheer, each one performed independently. The judges average the scores each team gets on each round, and the top 20 teams with the highest scores, make it to the finals.
“Our energy definitely helped us win, which came from feeding off of each other. We spend a lot of time together, and so, sometimes, we get sick of each other, or we get tired of each other, but throughout the competition, we have to have energy and spirit, so that’s what encourages us. We just have to build off of each other and feed off of each other’s motivation”, Blanchard said.
Some of the girls have been a part of the team since the competition started, but every year has been different and special to them in some way.
“This year was definitelydifferent from the previous years, because a lot of people [were] going in for us last year, to us trying to win our second, but getting in to win our third, even more people were going for us, [analyzing] our every movement. I can’t even count the number of teams that have walked up to us this year saying ‘We’ve been watching your videos, we love y’all, you’re so good’ and ‘how do you get this good?’ Really there’s no answer except for hard work. So, this year, we just worked our tails off and did everything we could to make ourselves not only as good as last year, but better”, senior Addison Lewis said.
The team’s desire to win, along with their close bonds, helped them reach their goal.
“I really think what made the team win was the heart of the upperclassmen, both the juniors and the seniors wanted it really really bad. I think that they set the example for the younger girls. I think that they helped push and encourage them because, out of our freshmen and sophomores, only one was on the team the year before, and so really the upperclass men were the only ones that had a real idea of what to expect. I think that it was their leadership that helped them do it”, Coach McKinley said.