The St. Joseph’s Academy Cheerleaders won the 2021 National High School Cheerleading Championship (NHSCC), held April 23-25 at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando.
The NHSCC is billed as the most prestigious high school cheerleading championship in the country. Teams must qualify for the competition by winning state-level championships.
The SJA squad competed in the Super Varsity Division with its traditional competition routine, which includes elite stunts, tumbling, pyramids, jumps and a minute-long cheer. During Saturday’s semifinal round, SJA “hit” a perfect routine with zero deductions, moving onto the final round and bringing home the title of national champion.
“This has been a dream come true for me,” said Coach Mollye McManus. “Ever since I became an SJA cheerleader in 2011, I have dreamed of coaching this team. And this past weekend, we brought a national championship title back to Baton Rouge. This has been a crazy year working around COVID restrictions, major schedule changes and multiple injured athletes. These girls are resilient and so talented. They were always willing to learn new skills and made it happen, despite the obstacles. Their work ethic is something every coach dreams of, and I could not be more proud of these girls. My heart is bursting.”
Senior Josie Moore said being a national champion means much more than bringing home top honors from the competition itself. It also means countless hours of work and overcoming every obstacle in the way. “Our team has become such a family, and there is no better feeling than all your hard work paying off with your best friends,” she said. “Having won my freshman year and falling short the past two years made this win even more special because as seniors, we felt as if we finally finished what we started. Winning that national championship title will always be a memory I hold close to my heart, and I hope the future SJA cheerleaders will one day get to experience the feeling of everything being worth it in the end.”
Senior Emma Shannon that the challenges presented by COVID, injuries and strenuous practices resulted in a team that arrived at nationals ready to compete. “We walked out onto the mat confident,” she said. “We performed with great strength and passion for the sport we love. At awards, I could not believe all of our hard work finally paid off. From getting second last year and looking back on the amount of work we had put into practice, our entire team knew we deserved a national champion trophy, regardless if we actually won or not. I am extremely proud of my team and the confidence that we have built over the past year.”
Junior Ella Boudreaux said hoisting the trophy and donning the champions’ white jacket made 11 months of work worth it. “Also, with the COVID season, this accomplishment means even more because it shows that we were able to overcome the obstacles of the pandemic,” she said. “I love this team so much, and we are all like sisters. Becoming a national champion is something I will never forget.”
Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Photos courtesy of Universal Event Photography and Lauren Morris