For the first time in the history of the High School NCA National Championship, an all-Black cheerleading squad has won the title.
“We are literally Black girl magic in the making,” Coach Naomi Jenkins said of her team, Impact Xtreme.
The team runs as a non-profit organization and all funds to support in terms of competitions, travel, and outfits are done through fundraising activities by the squad, coaches, and families. “It’s like a big deal to win this year, also because we’re a fully Black team,” 9-year-old cheerleader Monica Sherrod said.
These girls are the epitome of hard work and resilience, having won the largest competition held for high school nationals. They come from different socioeconomic backgrounds and their love for cheer unites them. According to coach Jenkins, there is more to these girls than cheer.
Their academic records are stellar as their cheer community ensures they do not ignore their academic works in pursuit of breaking cheer records. “They’re going to do well on their state testing and make sure that if they are applying for different scholarships, getting ready for the PSAT,” Jenkins said, adding that the team is making strides “from biology to back handsprings.”
Jenkins herself is an example of how cheerleading can open doors for you. Her law degree was sponsored by her cheer scholarship and she knows cheerleading is one sure way for the girls to go out and experience the world outside their hometown of Oklahoma City. “I want to give these girls the same opportunity that I had when I grew up cheerleading,” Jenkins said. “It is our way for them to get out and to see other things besides the little radius of the east side of Oklahoma City,” she added.
Black girls have the potential to excel, especially when they see others who like them excelling as well. That is the power of representation, according to Sherrod. “It means to them like that they can do it, too, and they can get in my team. They want to succeed and do whatever they want and that they have a chance to be great.”
“You can’t be who you can’t see, so they can see it … that means they can do it just as well,” Jenkins said. Black people must work twice as hard as their white counterparts and to win the national title validates all the hard work they put in during practice.
“We pretty much have to practice, like, over and over and over again what we have to do before we can go full out,” Sherrod said. Their win is all the sweeter because they have formed true friendships.