Archbishop Williams High School basketball cheerleaders brought home their third consecutive state championship after placing first at the competition at Fairhaven High School on Sunday.
As a result, the cheerleaders will be competing at the US Spirit National Championships this weekend in Orlando, Fla.
It’s been an adventure for the team and for coach Kathy Lewis, who will bring about half of the team back to Nationals for their second time.
“They are psyched,” Lewis said in a phone interview hours before leaving for the flight. “They cannot wait. It’s a really fun trip. They compete two days and it’s a 50/50 split. So your scores get added and the highest score at the end wins.”
As exciting as nationals can be for these girls, in Lewis’s mind, they have already won.
“States for us is where it’s at. That to us is the most important and highest accomplishment in our minds. We’re going up against the best in the state,” she said. “At nationals, you never know who you’re competing against. We went a few years ago and competed against one team…now we’ll be competing against a lot. It’s hard to explain, but states you know your competition, what everyone is scored, that it’s only the best going.”
Still, the team is taking the nationals seriously. Lewis said the girls are prepared to go down there and compete and represent the state well.
“We want to hit our routine and score the best that we can,” she said.
Getting to this point has taken hours of dedication from the team and its members, who started practicing two hours a day, seven days a week in August. In the winter, the girls have an easier time, only having to practice four days a week.
“I knew they had what they needed to do to win, but they needed to do it the best that they’ve done. And they did,” Lewis said. “We also had a lot of great competition. It felt like the first time when they accounted our name. It was petty awesome.”
School officials are also proud of the work the team has done to win states and move on to the next round.
"After an awesome week of practice, the girls took the floor on Sunday and hit a near-flawless routine. Hearing our name announced as the State Champions was an amazing moment for our team! We, coaches, are so proud of our girls' impressive effort and drive to be their best," said Joe Francis, Archbishop Williams High School athletic director. “It is hard to win one championship, let alone three in a row.”
Lewis hopes that those on the team who have experienced this venue will bring a new asset to the team this time around.
All in all, Lewis hopes her girls feel a true sense of accomplishment in getting to where they are.
“They only accomplished this because of the hard work they put in and sacrifices they made to make cheerleading one of the top three priorities in their life. This opportunity is not afforded to everybody, and they made it happen,” Lewis said. “I hope they have fun, and that they realize all of that.”