West cheerleaders take State title


Kelsey Warren, Office Manager

The weekend of February 6, 2016 will forever be remembered at Joliet West for the Varsity Cheerleaders winning the IHSA state championship. A state championship has not been brought back to the Joliet Township School District since the softball team won the title in 2000. For Joliet West this was a big accomplishment. These athletes hit a perfect routine two days in a row and took the title. “We all shared one goal and that was to win state so we did it for each other.” Before reaching state, they started their season right by getting first place at the Reed Custer competition. The Tigers continued to hit nine deduction-free routines throughout the season. “From the first day of practice in the summer our coaches told us that we weren’t training to make it to state but that we were training to win state and that’s exactly what we did,” junior, Kayla Walker said when asked about the start to their unbelievable season.  They had quite the season by having two first place and four second place finishes. Joliet West placed second in the SWSC Conference behind Lincoln-Way East. The Tigers hosted IHSA Sectionals where Lockport took first and West followed closely in second. By placing in the top five at Sectionals, the Tigers advanced to the state competition in Bloomington.

After day one of State, the Tigers were in second place to Providence with only a 0.06 difference in their scores. Making the top ten on day two meant the seniors’ final performance and the truth about who was to be named the State Champion. The cheerleaders of Joliet West performed and hit their routine perfectly. “I could literally feel the energy on the mat and I get chills just thinking about it! It felt amazing to hit such a perfect routine,” described junior Kayla Walker. Many other teams were complimenting how amazing the Tigers were in their routine.

As the team patiently waited to find out the final results, they congratulated the third place winner, Neuqua Valley and the second place finisher, Providence Catholic. After each team and member was announced from those two teams, the State Champion was announced: Joliet West. Senior Brandy Teague commented on the feeling of being named the winner by saying, “When I heard our named called I was in shock and I remember jumping and hugging the person next to me. It was the most unbelievable feeling ever. The journey has taken a lot of hard work and winning just makes everything so worth it.” The crowd went crazy while the Tigers screamed and cried with joy as they walked to the podium to receive their trophy. Each athlete walked across the stage to get their medal and picture taken, then they hoisted the trophy as a team. The team quickly gathered with their parents and friends for pictures with their shiny new trophy. Coach Diforti said, “Hearing them say our name was literally a dream come true.  You talk about that moment, you think about what that moment would feel like, but actually living that moment is something that the team and coaches will forever cherish.”

The next day was filled with bringing the trophy back home with a special parade and ceremony for the Tigers. When asked about the feeling of being a state champion, senior Amina Lee said, “The feeling was unfathomable but overall I am just happy for coach Diforti because she has been wanting this win for a really long time. She never stopped pushing us even on our bad days we knew we could do it because of her.” Each athlete has their own description of the feeling, but they all have one thing in common: happiness that their hard work has finally paid off. Freshman Tia Roland declared, “As a freshman it was definitely a lot of pressure, but that made me work extremely hard. We had such a great bond and chemistry that no other team had, I can’t even put into words how grateful I am to have had this incredible experience with this special team.”

Walking around school on Monday, the cheerleaders held their heads high with their medals around the necks, saying thank you to the many congratulations their classmates and teachers gave them. “I loved seeing all the people tweeting about us and saying how we all deserved it. All my teachers congratulated me and told me how we gave them chills when they watched it, it was amazing and I loved every single second of it,” voiced freshman Taylor Latta. Tuesday was the most significant day of the week as the Tigers were to be honored at an assembly in front of the whole school. Each senior was given the opportunity to say something about the experience and their gratitude to all that helped them along the way. Carolina Soto dreamed of being a champion since middle school and her senior year finally made her dream come true. “I always knew we were capable of winning but watching it all happen is totally different,” Soto expressed.

Their coach, Mrs. Diforti, was pleased to be a part of this team and see all that they accomplished throughout the season. The journey to state has not been easy. Coach Diforti explained, “They worked extremely hard for this State Title and they deserve this. They are such a passionate group of individuals that never gave up and never stopped trying to get better. They did everything Coach Stortz and I asked of them, pushed each other day in and day out, and came together as a family. I am so incredibly proud of them.”