The Johnson Varsity Cheer team took home their fourth consecutive University Interscholastic League (UIL) win on the competition held on Jan. 19, 2019. After having won three times in a row, the pressure was on and the team started preparing even earlier for this win.
“The seniors on the team, we’ve been on it since we were freshmen, and we really wanted to push to get a medal for our fourth year so we could do it for all four years, so I feel like this year, and all of the other years, were really motivating and all of us wanted to win,” Head cheerleader Gabriella Blanchard said.
The team, who usually starts preparing at the beginning of the school year, started preparing in July this time.
“This year specifically, the team wanted its fourth title, the freshmen wanted their first, the sophomores wanted their second, the juniors wanted their third; everyone wanted another one, so we just pushed really hard,” Blanchard said.
However, for Cheer Coach Shannon Wylie, this is a year round process.
“I actually start brainstorming ideas right when the last one’s over. So I’m looking for music and all that, really from January. But as far as the girls go, we start choreography and learning pieces of it in July,” Wylie said.
Every year, the team must bring something different to impress the judges and the crowd.
“We have won for the past three years and every year going into it, we’ve known that it’s gonna be harder and harder for that to happen. So, every year, we know we have to be better than the year before. So, we kept talking about trying to create a gap to make a big difference, and that’s something they’ve accomplished this year, there was a huge difference this year between them and second place, so that’s one of the things that was really different,” Wylie said.
The cheer team’s overall score as a 99.4 out of a 100.
“[In] preliminary rounds, you do everything separately, band dance, fight song and the crowd leading portion, and they give an award for the highest score in each division. The first year we won one of those awards, last year we won two of those awards, and this year we won all three, so we were actually the highest in every division in all rounds, not only in the final round, but all the first rounds too. So they stepped it up and did even better this year,” Wylie said.
This year, the team had a lot of new girls who hadn’t competed in the past years.
“[Winning] was definitely our goal, that’s what we wanted to aim for, and that’s what we kept talking about, all along, [that was our goal] but, it’s never an expectation you can have, because you never know what everybody else is gonna look like, cheerleading is also subjective, you never know what the judges are gonna like and what they’re not gonna like. So, it was definitely our goal but, at the end of the day, we kept talking about ho they just needed to do everything they were capable of doing, because everything else is not in their control,” Wylie said.
With each win and each year that goes by, the pressure grows for the team.
“Every year, there becomes more pressure, because people, as much as we try to say it can’t be an expectation, it’s what a lot of people have, and I don’t just mean cheerleaders, I mean people from the outside, other teams tend to watch you more, and even the judges expect more from you once you’ve done something several times,” Wylie said.
Overall, the team anticipated the win, knowing that with their hard work and dedication, they could get far in the competition.
“To be quite honest, I wanted [to win], but I didn’t know if it was gonna happen, I just wanted the team to push [itself]. We always say we want to win, but like, winning to us isn’t a trophy, it’s trying our hardest and then putting the best routine we have on the floor. It’s not necessarily a medal or a trophy, it’s just doing our best, so that’s what we wanted,” Blanchard said.