Usually cheerleaders are the ones doing the cheering, but Monday, folks in one eastern Oklahoma community are applauding the cheerleaders. It's because they brought home a national championship.
News on 6 anchor Craig Day has this story from Wilburton in Latimer County.
On the Eastern Oklahoma College campus, there is plenty to cheer about. On this day, the applause is for the Eastern cheerleaders. The team recently won the National Cheerleader Association National Championship in Daytona Beach, Florida.
It's first in 16 years of competition in the event. Eastern cheerleader Michelle Chase: "Our team is excited. It's something that we never dreamed of."
Eastern cheerleader Adrian Lillard: "It's definitely set in. When we won it, we were like we can't believe we won it. But now that we're here, it is like we really are national champions."
The team participated in an open co-ed category where two year schools competed along with larger four year universities. What makes Eastern's national championship even more impressive is when you consider the level of competition from schools they competed with. West Point, for example, came in third. And the runner up, Virginia Commonwealth University has an enrollment that is about ten times size of the student body here at Eastern.
The Eastern team overcame their pre-routine jitters to turn in an energetic, athletic and high flying performance. Eastern cheerleader Crystal Basden: "We only have two minutes and fifteen seconds to do what we have to do. That's it. We don't get four quarters."
Easternâ€™s cheerleading coach Pat Thomas: "When we get ready for nationals, six weeks ahead of that we begin to practice at night. We do weekend practices. We did a lot of practicing in Daytona. Craig Day: â€œAnd it paid off?â€ Pat Thomas: â€œIt paid off. It did."
Back on campus, it's their turn to be congratulated and cheered on for bringing the hardware home.
Eastern is also celebrating several other national championships. Just this past weekend, the school won three team agriculture national championships and two individual student championships.