After months of daily practices, the Fort Walton Beach High School Cheerleaders returned home Monday night with their second national title.
And it was a good day for Destin because more than half of thesquad calls the city home.
"It's very exciting," said Coach Natalie Schmidt. "I always tell the girls the only thing harder than winning is the repeat."
After taking home the title in 2012, the team was up for the challenge again last weekend when they beat out 30 other states at the National High School Cheerleading Competition, which was held in Orlando.
"It's the only competition that's recognized by the National Federation of State High Schools Association," Schmidt said.
The squad also took home second place in the world competition against Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica, ending up only one point away from first place.
"We were very shocked," said Destin resident Jordyn Hoffmann, one of the team captains. "We were just doing it for fun."
Although they were up against spirited competition, the local squad wouldnt be intimidated. They had placed second in the state competition, but were setting their sights on the top spot in the nationals.
"We just knew we had to go in there and hit the routine," Schmidt said.
As a senior, Hoffmann said the winning moment was "the most amazing feeling ever."
"It takes a lot of dedication, but it's all worth it in the end," she said.
Girls sports, and especially cheerleading, don't generally receive the support they deserve, but Schmidt and Hoffmann say that faculty, staff and students at Fort Walton Beach High School have done a great job at recognizing the team. In fact, dozens of parents, teachers and friends turned out Monday night when the squads bus pulled in from south Florida. They came with flowers, balloons and signs, and when the girls disembarked, they all gathered in the school gym to celebrate.
"The students have been really there for us and the principal even made an announcement to the school," Hoffman said.
In her fourth year as coach, this is Schmidt's first graduating class of cheerleaders.
"I'm really proud of the seniors and pleased with this strong finish to the season," said the coach, who also lives in Destin. "And I'm really excited for the incoming girls next year."
Alexa Allen 10th grade, Destin
Emily Balint 9th grade, Destin
Ashton Bedsole 10th grade, Destin
Ashli Buffkin ญญ10th grade, Destin
Phoenix Catao 12th grade, Destin
Skyler Denny (male)12th grade
Lexi Flores 11th grade
Sidney Freeman 9th grade, Destin
Alexa Gaddis 9th grade, Destin
Mary Gashaw 9th grade, Destin
Rebekah Glover (captain)-12th grade
Jesi Harrell 9th grade, Destin
Jordyn Hoffmann (captain)-12th grade, Destin
Ashley Holz 9th grade
Maria Jiminez 9th grade
Natalie Lawson 11th grade, Destin
Alyssa Lockwood 10th grade
Jamie Miglionico 11th grade
Kallee Pugh 12th grade, Destin
Bailey Rathmann 11th grade, Destin
Cassidy Raven 10th grade, Destin
Lauren Rigdon 9th grade, Destin
Hannah Robertson 9th grade
Riley Santos 12th grade
Tyler Scarver (male) 11th grade
Lyric Swedenhjelm ญ10th grade, Destin
Lexi Tillman 12th grade, Destin
Joanna Walls (captain) 12th grade
Kinsey Williams 9th grade
Jaden Wilson (manager)11th grade