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The Robert C. Byrd High School cheerleaders took the runner-up spot at the regional competition in November, it ignited a fire in the squad that truly gave them a hunger to win. While the team and its coaches are incredibly grateful to still compete at states, they took their challenges they faced at Regionals and grew from them. They have made the necessary changes to their routine to be the team to beat in Charleston.
Head coach Jennifer Banko explained the changes the team has made leading up to states, “This was probably one of our most difficult routines we have had, but not quite as unique as routines in the past, and that’s what people are used to, so we added more difficulty and made changes to make our routine more unique”.
The ultimate goal for the team is to bring their 7th consecutive state championship back to Robert C. Byrd High School. Coach Banko compared her team to a family, “every year is special, and I love them and we have become a family. These kids are like soldiers going to battle. They have made sacrifices to be a team and for each other. They have shed blood, sweat, and tears together”. Senior Kalie Henderson backed that statement up by saying, “Out of all four (4) years of cheering this team gets along the best, and all of the upperclassmen are friends with the underclassmen, and it’s just a family like atmosphere”.
“Their hard work and dedication to their team and each other has been the backbone of their success, and these athletes will do whatever they need to win”. This year the team had two team members who have never cheered before, which could be a challenge to some, it was not for the Byrd team. They banned together, put in the extra time and practice to help their teammates learn the basic fundamentals and grow into the type of cheerleader they need to be to compete in Charleston. “Coach Banko pushes us, she knows what we are capable of, she believes in us, has faith and has trust in us, and she will keep pushing us to do something until we do it because she knows we can”, explained Gia Morrone senior cheerleader. While fellow senior Eryca Clevenger explained, “this is one of the hardest working teams I have ever been a part of, and it is going to be tough leaving family”.
The team has given Coach Banko everything she has asked for and then some to prepare for their trip to Charleston. While this team is incredibly special to her, it is also very personal, “It’s my daughter’s senior year and having the opportunity to coach her and her friends is very special”. Banko went on to explain that her philosophy has always been losing one or two doesn’t make or break a team, everyone matters in a program, and as long as the kids are willing to work the teams will continue to be successful. Senior Sophie Banko expressed her gratitude towards the sport, “These past 4 years have been a huge part of my life, but I will always take what I have learned from this team and this sport throughout life”.
Robert C. Byrd High School performs last in the Class AA state championship, performing before them will be Logan, Westside, Man, Weir, Winfield, Bridgeport and Keyser high schools.
The City of Clarksburg would like to wish the Robert C. Byrd High School cheerleaders Good Luck in Charleston this Saturday, Dec 8. We are hopeful they will bring their seventh State Championship back to Clarksburg!