HARRISON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Winning a state championship is usually the highlight of any high school athlete’s career. At West Harrison High School, they have 24 athletes who have achieved much more than that.
The West Harrison Cheerleading team competed last weekend in the National High School Cheerleading Championships in Florida and came back with gold medals.
Three Harrison County cheerleading teams were invited to the competition. D’Iberville High School took second place in the Medium Girls Gameday category, but Harrison Central did not compete.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, for me especially. I worked four years on this team and we finally won and it was like that feeling. It was crazy,” said senior Zimyria Boler, who hopes to make the squad at the University of Miami.
The national championship is the culmination of a year of hard work and dedication.
“This year because of COVID they pushed nationals back all the way to April so we’ve had a really long season,” said coach Heather Serpas. “We’ve been going since probably May of last year we’ve been practicing for this national’s routine.”
Their division, Large Co-Ed Gameday, requires them to adapt their cheer to a certain situation on the fly.
“Our chant, they just give us a situational cue and we have to decide whether it would be offense or defense and then react accordingly to that,” Serpas said.
The group’s choreographer explained that he analyzes the squad and designs a routine that reflects their strengths.
“They’re super sharp,” said Jacob Stewart. “They’re really good on the dancing and the music section of competition so I really focus on giving them tight motions, giving them very clean, executed stunts. So that was one of the things that helped us this year with winning nationals and winning state.”
The squad credits more than one thing to their victory.
“We’re a big family and we work together and it takes everyone working together to make things happen,” said senior Rob Morrison who will cheer at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College next year.
“You really have to come in every practice and make sure you’re giving 110% every time,” said Boler. “You only get one chance when you’re out there, so you have to treat every time like it’s that moment.”
The squad doesn’t have much time to rest on their laurels. Tryouts for next season is in two weeks.