Cheer team dominates states


Morgan and Zach Libby

Taylor Simmons, Staff Writer

The cheer team is crouched down with foreheads touching the mat in a giant oval, gripping the hands of the girls on either side and waiting in anticipation as the runner-up of this year’s State championship is announced. As the judge reads the name Grandville as the second place recipient, the RHS team knows it has taken home first. The girls erupt in screams of joy and tears begin to flow from their eyes as the seven other teams surround them and clap for the 2016 State Champions, a feat they have not achieved since 2009.

Junior and first year Varsity member Morgan Libby explains what this experience at the Delta Plex in Grand Rapids was like for her, as her older brother, parents and grandparents looked on.

“It’s the best feeling ever [to be a State Champion],” Morgan Libby said. “I can’t even describe it how much it meant to me. It felt awesome [when they called off the second place winner] because we knew that we did it.”

Alumnus Zach Libby, ‘14, was there to support his sister and he felt the energy from the building was palpable.

“There’s not a better atmosphere than a high school cheerleading competition,” Zach Libby said. “They pack over 3,000 parents and teenagers inside this tiny arena, which only heightens the amount of screams and noise makers.”

Morgan Libby explains that the team trained to not be too cocky because one can never predict what will happen on the mat.

“Grandville and Stevenson were our toughest competitors,” Morgan Libby said. “I wasn’t worried because we focus on ourselves and nothing else.”

Morgan’s mom, Melissa Libby, sitting on the edge of her seat.

“It was very exciting and tense in the arena,” Mrs. Libby said. “With only eight teams competing, the spectators and athletes knew that it would be a short competition, unlike the regular season competitions that had upwards of 30 teams, lasting several hours. Everyone knew that there was very little room for error. The RHS parents felt that if our team ‘hit,’ there was no beating us.”

Zach Libby explained what it was like when RHS won.

“When Rochester was announced the winner, I pushed my dad in excitement which made him fall over,” Zach Libby said. “The Rochester crowd felt the same; tears were shed and there was an intense amount of clapping and screaming.”

While the cheerleaders remain tight-lipped about the traditions the week before States, during and after because it’s confidential, Mrs. Libby shares what the parents do.

“RHS Varsity is crazy with tradition,” Mrs. Libby said. “The Varsity parents are very involved throughout the entire season. Beginning in December, we meet every Monday to put together ‘Mom Cheer’ night– a night full of skits and songs and silliness. The dads are involved too with their own performance. The night before States, we have a big team dinner and put on a show for the girls. It really helps to break the tension before such a big competition and the girls love it.”

Morgan Libby echoed that tensions were high leading into States.

“It was terrifying because there was so many people in the crowd looking at you,” Morgan Libby said. “It was really fun and exciting, but at the same time intense.”

Varsity scored 237.9 in round one, with Grandville right on their tails at 237.7.

“Varsity’s performance in round one looked flawless to me,” Mrs. Libby said. “I think there is something about the RHS uniforms that really makes them pop on the mat, particularly at a venue like DeltaPlex, where the colors are so complimentary to RHS colors.”

In round 2, RHS eked out a narrow victory again with a score of 232.5, with Grandville earning 232.46.

“In round two I noticed a couple of little things (mistakes is too harsh of a description),” Mrs. Libby said. “That worried me, but many of the nearby parents shook it off and reassured me that it looked great.”

When round three ended without a drop, the whole stadium went crazy.

“We had the advantage of going last in round three,” Mrs. Libby said. “The girls ‘left it all on the mat,’ literally, as several of them actually collapsed to the floor once their routine was over. They *knew* they had just won, I think. During their routine, I noticed that other teams and spectators not from RHS were cheering and clapping just as hard as we were.”

When the scores were starting to be announced one-by-one, it became more and more intense as each place was called off starting from eighth and ending with Michigan’s 2016 State Champion.

“I can’t even describe it except that it was awesome,” Morgan Libby said. “[When we were called off] I just started crying and everyone stood up and clapped for us.”

Zach Libby was proud of his sister, her team and RHS athletics in general.

“It’s the first sport at Rochester to win a state title in Luke Beach’s tenure,” Zach Libby said. “So it’s without a doubt the most talented sport at RHS.”

Athletic director Luke Beach echoed Zach Libby’s sentiments.

“It was an amazing experience for everyone involved especially our coaching staff and obviously our student athletes,” Mr. Beach said. “It was a culmination of all the hard work they put in all year. We could not be more proud of how the cheer program performed that night and how they represent us not only on the floor but also in the school.”