St. Joseph High School

‘SJ on three – 1,2,3, SJ!’

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When you hear the term “pep squad,” the first things that may come to mind are the cheerleaders on the sidelines at both Bosco’s and St. Joseph’s (SJ) sporting events. While that is one aspect of the program, there is much more to it than just cheer bows, poms, and makeup.

Behind those aspects are countless hours of hard work on the mat and the dance floor. The dedication and sacrifice put into this program are no different from other sports.

While football players practice their plays, pep squads practice their routines. While basketball players practice free throws, song teams practice their pirouettes. While volleyball players practice their serves, cheer teams practice their stunts. We may be unappreciated at rallies and the work we put in may be undervalued, but we know the amount of effort being a member of pep squad takes.

After months of cheering for our Bosco brothers and SJ sisters, we shift our focus to competition season where we push our physical and emotional boundaries so that we can compete and perform to the best of our abilities.

After several competitions (Cheer Pros, USA Regionals, and Best of The West), we had one last shot to place first at Nationals. We wanted first place more than ever, especially since we had fallen only a few points short to the same team multiple times throughout the season.

To many, this last competition of the season was the one that mattered most. Months of preparation had gone by in the blink of an eye, and at this point it, was all or nothing.

On March 18, over 20 teams competed against St. Joseph in the first round, and our performance would determine whether or not we would be one of the nine teams to move on to the final round on Sunday. Thankfully, our performance was good enough to put us into second place going into the second round and giving us a good shot at first. However, the same team that had beaten us several times earlier in the season was, once again, a few points ahead of us.

We still had a bitter taste in our mouths from losing to them, and we weren’t going let it happen again. It would all end on March 20. After that, all our sacrifices of our season would end–no more weekend or after-school practices, no more icing our sore bodies after a long and tiring workout, and no more pushing ourselves to run through the dance “one more time.” Whether it would be a first-place finish, a second-place finish, or a ninth-place finish, we knew that all the hard work and sacrifice would be over after this last performance, so we agreed to lay it all out on the dance floor.

We agreed to give it all we had, not just so we could finally beat the team that had bested us several times before. Not just so we could go home with medals around our necks. Not just so we could have a trophy and banner in the gym. We agreed to give it all we had for each other, for our coaches, for our parents and loved ones who supported us.

With that in mind, we huddled behind the curtains one final time. “SJ on 3 – 1, 2, 3, SJ!”  And with that, we were ready.

As we stepped on the dance floor, for some reason it felt bigger and I felt smaller. Maybe it was because of the nerves, but the adrenaline I got from the crowd’s energy helped take care of that. We saw our friends and families there to support us and, just like that, we were filled with confidence.

We walked to our starting formation spots with the stage lights brightly shining on us. As we got in position, there was silence, much like the eerie calm before a storm.  Then it was “go” time.

The energy we felt was beyond words. We moved in harmony, connecting through our motions. We were individuals but, in that dance, we were one. We hit very step with precision. Every facial expression was made with passion. We wanted it, and the audience felt it too.  And just like that, it was over. Months of hard work finally put to rest after a two-minute performance. Without speaking to each other, we knew. We knew that we had given it our all and would be proud of our finish regardless of the outcome.
We made our way over to the awards ceremony where we would find out how we placed. Our bodies, which were just filled with adrenaline, quickly became filled with anxiety. We knew that we did all we could, but first place was still on our minds.

The nine teams, including us, faced the audience as the announcer started from ninth place. We held hands, knowing that we were in this together. The ninth, eighth, seventh, sixth, fifth, fourth, and third places were called; and each time the announcer uttered a syllable, our bodies would tremble with nervousness. When it finally came down to second place being announced, only our team and the team that had previously beaten us remained. Once again, it was down to just us.

“And in second place….”

Our name wasn’t called, and that meant only one thing.

“Your 2016 Varsity Small Pom Intermediate Division Champions is Saint Joseph’s!”

Our bodies, which had gone from being filled with adrenaline to being filled with anxiety, were then filled with pure joy. We had done it. All our hard work had paid off, and we were crowned champions.

This season was definitely one for the books, and we created memories that will last a lifetime. No matter where we all are in 10 years from now, there’s a part of us that will forever be on the dance floor. We’ll still be Jesters, we’ll still be song leaders, and we’ll forever be sisters.

“SJ on 3 – 1, 2, 3, SJ!”

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