“Purple! White! P! H! S!”
Those chants rang loudly from the bleachers.
Normally, on any given gameday or pep rally, the RL Paschal High School cheer squad spurs the crowd on to cheer. But, on Jan. 20, Paschal High School’s state champion cheer team had its own cheering section.
The team was at the center of attention during a schoolwide pep rally, made complete by the school’s award-winning band. The squad of more than 30 cheerleaders was recognized for its recent — and historic — win at the University Interscholastic League State Spirit Championship. Paschal High School is the first Fort Worth ISD school to win the State Spirit Championship, according to UIL.
Head cheer coach Alex Saenz called the support amazing.
“For a sport that does so much for other people, it feels so cool to get that love back in return,” Saenz said.
Superintendent Angélica Ramsey was at the Gus Bates Center on the Paschal campus Friday, supporting the team. She spoke to the squad before the informal medal ceremony.
“We got to see today why you were crowned champions,” Ramsey said over the gym’s loudspeakers. “And I just want you to know I’m humbled and proud.”
Todd Vesely, Fort Worth ISD’s executive director of athletics, praised the team’s hard work and determination that led to their historic championship.
“Everyone starts the year wanting to reach the mountaintop that these young ladies reached, but not everyone has the commitment and the work to give the time, energy and effort,” Vesely said.
While congratulating the team, Vesely added this is a proud moment for Paschal High School, and Fort Worth in general.
During the rally, the cheer team performed its first-place winning routine to an enthusiastically raucous response from students, teachers and alumni. The school pulled students out of the day’s second period 45-minutes early, allowing the whole student body the chance to return the cheer.
Following the team’s performance, each member of the cheer squad was presented with a gold medal.
Senior Indie Lopez is the team captain. For Indie, her last time cheering on a high school mat ends with a gold medal around her neck, and a lift of a state championship trophy.
Lopez was over the moon discussing the season’s journey and the support along the way.
“Everyone was so completely devoted to this team,” Lopez said. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Matthew Sgroi is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.