ATHENS, Texas (KLTV) - Trinity Valley Community College added another notch of history to their rich cheer legacy.
The program captured their 12th national title and their first since 2017. The past two years were difficult ones for the TVCC cheer team. In 2019 they lost in the national championship to their rival Navarro College who was featured on Netflix’s show “Cheer.”
In 2020 before the mats could be rolled out in Daytona, FL, their season was over as the 2020 National Cheerleaders Association was canceled due to COVID-19.
“I had never even felt that type of sadness before and when I found out that I couldn’t even try and fulfill my dream of being on this team and competing with this team. I literally felt my heart break,” said Emily Panchalk, who was on the 2019 and 2020 TVCC teams.
That heartbreak turned into hard work the next season. With COVID-19 still in the picture, the team had to endure frequent COVID-19 testing and COVID-19 protocols as well as a scare with weeks before the championships; that scare being several members receiving a false positive test, almost recreating last year’s uncertainty.
“It’s not stressful because we are worried about the routine, it’s stressful because we are worried about the athletes,” said Vontae Johnson who is the TVCC head coach. “We don’t know how COVID is going to affect anybody, because it affects everyone differently, so the stressful part was we wanted to make sure they were safe.”
Ultimately, that adversity leading to their goal, a national championship and a season’s worth of different emotions turning into pure joy.
“It was definitely a different feeling. It was unlike anything I have ever felt; kind of something that you can’t explain,” said Taylor Johnson, who was on the 2020 team.
The team is already preparing to try to repeat for next year, as they are hosting tryouts on Friday. They are also accepting video tryouts until May 1.