By Jennifer Jimenez, Independent Newsmedia
It took nearly an entire year of preparation, but the Valley Vista High School pom line, under head coach Amy Crow, got it done.
The team earned the title of national champions after winning the USA Spirit Nationals pom division March 24-26 in Anaheim, Calif.
After winning back-to-back AIA state championships, the team ended this season on the highest of notes. This was its third year at the national competition and last year the Monsoon finished third.
Senior captains Madi Mata and Riley Walkenbach said the new team was formed last April and they have been working ever since to nail down their competition routine.
As for the team’s secret to such an impressive routine, its leaders said great choreographers, plus team input and modifications made by coach Crow brought everything together. But the win simply came down to dedication and teamwork.
“We are athletes just like any other sport. We practice, condition and run routines over and over again,” Walkenbach said. “It takes a lot of endurance and smiling through it.”
Mata said earning a national championship is more than just the physical aspect of performing. Pom teams have to do it with a smile, all the while staying in sync with one another and making each move sharp, which makes winning that much more difficult.
Heading into finals the captains say their team was calm. They trusted each other and knew they can count on each other throughout the performance and that trust was tested during this competition.
The pom line also played hurt, so to speak.
Senior Kennedi Brown went down with an injury during the practice prior to finals. Coach Crow said they had six hours to decide if Brown could perform.
“She is our MVP,” Brown said. “She iced it and took care of it all day and when it was our turn she taped it up and went out on the floor and got it done.”
Mata said they are still getting used to calling themselves national champions, but the victory is incredible.
Walkenbach said watching their team grow together throughout the years and fighting for a goal and to finally get what they worked for is really cool.
“We are the first for our school and being that lead example on campus is something we strive to be and proving to our school that we work hard,” she said.
Valley Vista Principal Roberta Lockhart said this team exemplifies what champions are and credited coach Crow with holding the student-athletes to the highest of expectations.
“These girls practice hard and are perfectionists. They work to ensure that they are prepared and they leave everything they have on the floor,” she said. “Ms Crow has led this team for 11 years, since Valley Vista opened.
She started with the spiritline in 2006, coached cheer for eight years and started pom in 2011. Her leadership surely makes the difference.”
Ms. Lockhart said this championship is paramount for the school and said it is validating for the student-athletes that work so hard.
“Having just celebrated our pom state championship and our girls basketball first-ever state championship, we are thrilled to be celebrating our first national championship. We are so proud of these girls and their coach,” Lockhart explained.
Editor’s Note: Ms. Jimenez is a Peoria-based freelance writer.