FAIRFIELD (WTNH) — It’s a moment they’ll never forget — stepping off the bus as a team, trophy in hand, with their friends, family in classmates ready to greet them as national champions.
The Sacred Heart University cheerleading team returned home to Connecticut champions on Monday after winning the Universal Cheerleading Association’s All Girl Division I Cheerleading in Orlando on Saturday night.
“I waited my whole life for this moment,” said cheerleader Nicole Longo, “We put our heart and soul on that mat.”
It’s the first national championship for the team but it’s also the SHU’s first Division I national championship.
WATCH: Cheerleaders return home after big win
“When you hit the nationals mat you want to leave with no regrets,” said head coach C.J. Sereno. “You want to walk off knowing that you did the absolute best that you can do.”
“We never, ever thought we would place first or second,” said Serano. Our division is really hard, there are amazing teams in it, first and second were places that could never be touched. It’s just insane, it was honestly the perfect storm.”
SHU said of the win, “This is great news for the team and for the University.”
In a statement to News 8 Sunday, Sereno expressed her pride for the team’s accomplishment, citing each member’s dedication and commitment:
“We are so proud to have earned this championship title. It is remarkable what our team has been able to accomplish this year. We truly have a special group of athletes.
Their positive attitude, dedication, commitment and love for this program made the work all worth it. We never thought this was attainable. We’re dreaming with our eyes wide open.”– C.J. Sereno, SHU Cheer Team Head Coach
On Twitter, they posted a congratulatory tweet sharing a video from the awards ceremony saying, “That moment when you realize you’re National Champions in Cheerleading #Congratulations #WeAreSHU”
The Universal Cheerleading Association getting in on the “congratulations,” posting a team pick of SHU’s cheer team following the win.
Jessie Esposito, a member of the SHU cheer team, said of the work leading up to the team win, “Hard work really does pay off. The past 4 years on this team have not been easy, but today was the most rewarding feeling in the world. I’m so proud of you all for how far we have come to prove ourselves.”