Cheerleaders from Sunset High School in Dallas haven't been on the sidelines for months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, they've been practicing routines online via Zoom.
"They've been working really hard during the pandemic," cheerleading coach Natasha Mitchell said.
That hard work paid off. Four students made the National Cheerleaders Association All-American Team; Frederick James, Mario Garcia, Jourdyn Hawkins, and Alexis Rodrigues.
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Making the team is a big accomplishment of mine," Rodriguez said. "I'm very proud of myself."
It's an accomplishment for Sunset High School, too, which has never had one cheerleader, let alone four of them, make the NCA All-American team.
"For anyone not familiar with cheer, All-American would be like football making the All-District or All-State team, or NFL making the Pro Bowl," Mitchell explained.
"People just think that we...just yell, or we just cheer and look happy," James said. "When in reality, we work really hard."
Hawkins, the team captain, was also asked to apply for an NCA staff position. That's a first for Sunset High as well.
"I was so excited, I was screaming," Hawkins said.
The cheerleaders give credit to their coach for keeping them motivated during challenging times.
"She's taught us to be very optimistic with the challenges we were facing during the pandemic," Hawkins said. "I have learned that anything is possible," Garcia said.
"We're going to make it through the pandemic. We're gonna come out shining on the opposite side," Mitchell said. "It may be like running through mud, but you can still clean it off."
All four cheerleaders are enrolled in Sunset High School's P-TECH program, taking credits for a college associate's degree while they're getting their high school diplomas.