The cheer squad at Waxahachie High School placed fifth overall and took home the state championship title in the band dance category for 5A Division I schools at the University Interscholastic League Texas Spirit Championship.
Other 5A Ellis County teams that placed in the top-20 included Midlothian High School (15th overall) and Red Oak High School. The Hawks finished 4th in the crowd leading category and 12th overall.
Out of the 70 teams in 5ADI, WHS scored the highest in the band dance category after their final performance. Head cheer coach Erica Fritz said this portion of the production stood out due to its uniqueness and the fact that no one else was doing the same type of dance.
“Every single girl did their part in that routine. It’s a very fast routine and they were super sharp. They didn’t miss a beat and were full of energy,” Fritz said.
It was the team’s band dance score that got the squad to the finals. Calculating the preliminary scores, WHS was placed 16th going into finals. When Fritz received the judges’ feedback from the preliminary round, she noticed the team’s fight song scored very low.
“We were very, very worried because our fight song did not do well. So, we had to make a lot of changes before finals. They very obviously did not like about our fight song,” Fritz explained.
The team had two and a half hours to take the comments into consideration and adjust their fight-song performance. They received the criticism and adapted their routine. It resulted in placing a lot higher than expected.
“A lot of times when you go into finals, you don’t really see teams jumping from 16th to fifth,” Fritz explained.
UIL officials gave out trophies for each category, and that’s when the team found out they received first place in the band dance category.
“We were so surprised, there was so much talent there,” Fritz said. “We are a smaller squad, most squads had the full limit, which was 30, and we had 25 and that included our three flag guys."
Yet, even with the high placing, the squad was not afforded a traditional celebration. In fact, the Waxahachie team wasn't even aware they had placed at all — thanks to an error on the part of the announcer.
While announcing the top-five teams for 5ADI, the announcer forgot to announce fifth place.
It was not until the WHS cheer team was leaving the competition when another cheer coach approached Fritz, sharing the news that Waxahachie placed fifth.
“I at first didn’t believe her, it didn’t make sense. I turned around and the girls were looking at me like ‘what’s going on?’ So I went and found an official for UIL and they had in fact forgotten to announce us,” She added. “They did apologize to us, and they were very special and apologetic. You can’t go back and get that moment back which is very unfortunate for our girls. It mattered, but it didn’t matter because we put in the work and we got what we deserved.”
Fritz said the question of the hour on the bus ride back home was “what will the standard be when Waxahachie competes at the 6A level?”
Reflecting on this year’s competition, Fritz said the team would need to step up their creativity with their flags, design of signs and advancing their fight song.
Fritz thanked the cheer team’s booster club for supporting them. She also recognized the athletic director, superintendent of curriculum and the WHS principal for attending the competition in Ft. Worth.
“I couldn’t be more proud. I’m so grateful to be their coach. It’s my pleasure to be their coach,” Fritz said.