PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – The Bay High cheer team returned home after their national championship win in Orlando and definitely were greeted back like champions.
The Tornadoes came back to Bay County with a helicopter and police escort where a large crowd were waiting to celebrate them at Tommy Oliver.
“It’s amazing to see the community support we’ve gotten from this. It’s absolutely unreal and the alumni of this program have been so proud and so supportive and it means just as much to them and that feels really good,” Bay cheerleader Sydney Gay said.
The Tornadoes have won the FHSAA State Championship four times, but this is the first time they have ever won a national championship.
“The teams before us have paved this moment for us and the coaches have prepared it, have been waiting for this moment and it’s finally here. We are national champions,” Bay cheerleader Cameryn Cool said.
It wasn’t the first time the girls have been on that stage though, they’ve been aiming to go and win a national championship for a while.
“My freshman year, we got third and just to get that close, you would have thought we won the competition that year with how excited we were. Each year we almost made it and then finally this year we worked our absolute hardest and finally achieved their goal and it’s just incredible, the feeling that came with that,” Bay cheerleader Camryn Commander said.
Some tears were shed after the girls got off the bus because it finally hit them that their hard work paid off.
“Winning nationals was a lot we had a lot of 7 a.m. practices, so you had to wake up early, get ready for practice, go to practice early, then go to school after that that was kind of a struggle, it was tiresome but all worth it,” Bay cheerleader Ane Chancellor said.
The coaches were thrilled that the team was able to get one of the highest honors in cheerleading.
“I’m just so proud the way they went out there and pushed through all the obstacles and all the discomfort from the workouts, doing the routine, all of that stuff. They’re amazing,” Bay coach Savannah Tillman said.
It’s something this group of girls will remember for a very long time.
“I will never forget this. This is absolutely incredible,” Gay said.