Thornwood High cheerleaders take championship -- again

March 18, 2008 4:23:54 PM PDT
A group of athletes and academics form the Thornwood High School cheerleading team, which won the national championship. "It feels great. We worked really hard everyday practicing. I think when you work hard you appreciate it more...and I definitely appreciate this," said Ashley Leggs, team member.

The young woman competed against 11 of the country's top teams to win the championship.

"It definitely was a challenge but I had to keep pushing through-- doing all my school work, plus being at practice and everything, balancing my sleep and everything. It was hard but I pushed through it," said Amanda Lowe, team member and valedictorian.

Cheerleading is a strong tradition at the South Holland school. In the past 14 years, the team has won six state championships and six national championships.

Billie Griggs, the schools dean of students, is also the coach of the cheerleading team.

"They, all of them, when they leave me they go to college," said Griggs. "They may not come to be disciplined but when they leave me they're very disciplined they're very focused --and they know exactly when they want to do."

The team performs just as well in the classroom as it does at basketball games, rallies and homecomings. Last year's captain Christin Nichols is chemistry major at UIC.

"I think it's a very different sport," said Nichols. "And a lot of people don't think of it as a sport, but it's very challenging and it's different."

"I wake up every day and think of all the accomplishments we've had over the years," said Griggs. "I know there are some teams that work hard and don't see the accomplishments we've had...it's a great feeling. It is."


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