The members of the Herndon High School Co-Ed Cheer Team have been on cloud nine since the team’s win at the Virginia state finals on Nov. 10.
“I’m so ecstatic,” said head coach Jenny Goff. She said the sports banquet, held Nov. 15, was a beautiful, bittersweet moment for the team.
While preparing for the team to perform its routine at states, Goff said she felt incredibly proud the team had made it to states.
“We had no idea what was going to be ahead of us,” she said. “Out honest goal was just to place top five.”
Goff said when the team performed the first time at states they broke down in tears afterward. The team was proud to have maxed out their routine and was pleased with what could have been the last time they would take the floor.
When the Hornets saw the score of 270 come up they were happy, but didn’t process how high their score was, and since they competed first they had to wait to see the scores of five teams after them. They were in first place, beating Fairfax by half a point, Goff said.
“You can imagine the shock, the emotions, the intensity,” Goff said. “Fairfax beat us the week before at regional finals. It was just amazing.”
During warm-ups the team knew it was hitting everything perfectly, Goff said. “You have to have energy and you have to sell the routine and the judges have to buy it,” she said.
The judges and the crowd could feel the adrenaline and energy the Herndon Co-Ed Cheer Team brought to the finals, Goff said. “I felt it and I thought it was just me being an overly proud coach,” she said.
After the final rounds the coaches were handed their team’s score in an envelope. Herndon’s score of 280.5 was 10.5 points higher than the first round performance. Goff said when it was announced that the second place score was in the 270s she and the other coaches began to freak out.
Goff said when the team realized they had won the team was so overwhelmed they stayed sitting on the floor and began crying.
“It was great knowing how much their hard work had paid off,” Goff said. She said Herndon’s push to the state title was an amazing ride in her nine years of coaching.
“The amazing thing about them is their heart and their drive,” Goff said of the team.
Goff said her team went into the season knowing they would be competing with teams with triple the amount of talent, but they also knew they had something special. ‘That’s the best win — is whenever you work for it,” she said.
The Herndon team is a Cinderella story, according to Goff. She said cheerleaders already have many stereotypes to fight. At Herndon where they’ve always had male cheerleaders, they knew there could be more difficulties because some schools aren’t accepting of male cheerleaders.
Additionally, cheerleading is very competitive and can include a lot of mean-girl mentality, but it was important to them to work against that.
Goff said the coaches and members of the team have worked hard to ensure every member of the team is respectful and has integrity and character. She said they achieved that goal.
It was most noticeable at regional semi finals, when in addition to Herndon’s fans standing up and cheering the team on, other competing schools and their fans began cheering Herndon on as well.
“For them to root for us because they liked us as people, and as a team, and as a program — that was a cool team moment right there,” Goff said. “At that point in time that was bigger than a win. Way bigger than a win.”
Goff, who told the team at the beginning of the year that this would be her last season, wants her team to know they can continue their success. She said returning members will have the abilities and the qualities needed to continue doing great things.
“They can top this. They can do better,” she said.
* This article was updated/corrected on 11/24/12 at 1 a.m.