Nothing was going to stop her.

A week and a half before the Nebraska State Cheer and Dance Championships, every single member of the Morrill High School cheerleading squad quit — except one.

The three members, all freshmen, quit due to personal reasons, leaving Katrina, a senior, on her own. While most people would have thrown in the pom-poms, Katrina isn’t like most people.

From the moment she saw her first football game as a little girl, she knew she wanted to be a cheerleader. So, she worked hard to make her dream a reality. For four years, Katrina proudly cheered on her school’s team, the Morrill High School Lions, in addition to playing basketball, volleyball, and track.

And it had all culminated in this moment, the state cheer championships, her final hurrah. And she wasn’t about to give it up.

I’ve put a lot of time into cheer. It’s just always been a part of who I am, so I didn’t want to end on that note. I wanted to go out on a high one,” Katrina told Insider.

And going out on a high one is exactly what she did.

But she had to jump through a few hoops first.

The Road to the Nebraska State Cheer and Dance Championships

After discussing her plan to go solo with her coach, April Ott, the two got to work revamping the routine into a one-person show. With mere days to go before the competition, they spent hours together, changing up the choreography, removing stunts, and creating new signs.

Finally, the big day arrived.

Dressed in her Lions cheer outfit, Katrina took her place on the competition floor in front of the judges, alone.

But it turns out, she wasn’t alone. Word about the solo cheerleader had spread. By the time she took to the floor to perform her 3-minute routine, she had over 2,000 people cheering her on, including competitors and fans from other teams.

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At that moment, every single spectator in the Heartland Events Center in Grand Island, NE was a part of the same team — Team Katrina — and they didn’t hold anything back. Throughout her entire routine, they joined together as one, cheering right along with her.

And in return, Katrina gave it her all.

Alongside photos of the event on the school’s Facebook page, Morrill Lion Cheer, Coach Ott wrote in part:

“She did it! What an amazing routine! Thank you to each one of our cheer friends, family and fans far and near who packed the stands and cheered with Katrina! The crowd was booming with callbacks on her chants and cheers! Her jumps were soaring through the air and her school spirit was contagious.”

How a Solo Cheerleader Made History

Not only did Katrina perform, but she also made history while doing it by becoming the first cheerleader to ever perform solo at the Nebraska State Cheer and Dance Championships. And to top it off, she came in 8th out of 12 squads — the highest the Lions had ever placed.

Now that’s something to cheer about.

More than anything, Katrina is just happy she did it. As she prepares to go off to the University of Nebraska to study nursing, and later join the U.S. Air Force, she does so with the confidence of knowing she can tackle anything.

“I feel really proud of myself for knowing I can do it and not giving up,” she said after the meet. “Just getting it done.”

Katrina may not have won the state championship, but she won something far greater: the admiration and respect of her peers. Her determination and bravery were an inspiration to everyone who saw her compete. She is a true champion.

In life, we will all face challenges and setbacks, but it’s how we respond to those adversities that define us. Katrina’s story is a reminder that we can all find the strength to overcome our obstacles and achieve our goals, even when things seem impossible. With hard work, determination, and a little bit of courage, anything is possible.

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