Cheerleader’s Entire Squad Drops Out, So She Does The Unthinkable

Remembering your high school years can feel like an assault of unwelcome nostalgia. Trying to figure out who you are in a mire of other awkward, gangly, and sometimes cruel, kids can be rough — if not altogether miserable. So when one Maine cheerleader discovered she was the only performer left on her squad, she chose to do something that would not only make her stick out from the crowd, but completely rile them up!

Needless to say, being a teenager is one of the most difficult times in a person’s life. So standing out in high school isn’t always ideal. For Kaitlyn Berthiaume, however, standing out was pretty much her game.

See, entering her senior year at Messalonskee High School, the 17-year-old had so much to look forward to. Kaitlyn was very close to her classmates and very well-liked at her small, rural school in Oakland, Maine.

It was almost impossible not to like Kaitlyn. She was hard-working and extremely passionate, especially when it came to her love of cheerleading. Going into her final year of high school, she expected this to be the best season for the squad.

The only problem was there was no squad. Before summer was even over, it became apparent that Kaitlyn was the only girl signed up to cheer that year. She could hardly believe it. All those bright stadium lights had just gone out on her.

While some girls might cheer just for the social aspect, Kaitlyn was truly passionate about the sport. As she swallowed the initial disappointment of the squad-less squad, she now had to face a big decision— to cheer or not to cheer?

As it turns out, this wasn’t a tough decision at all for Kaitlyn. Squad or no squad, she was not going to miss out on her senior year of cheer. If standing alone in front of the entire school was what she needed to do, then that was exactly what she would do!

Funny enough, Messalonskee High School actually retained two cheer coaches, Annie Dobos, and Maila Couture. This meant that not only was Kaitlyn acting as an entire cheerleading squad, but she was also outnumbered by her coaches!

Still, this didn’t deter anyone from supporting Kaitlyn’s solo squad. Coach Dobos and coach Couture were all in for training Kaitlyn for the season. In fact, because there was only one girl to coach, Kaitlyn got a lot of attention, which she matched by taking her training very seriously.

As the first football game approached, Kaitlyn’s confidence began to waver. In theory, continuing the cheer squad was allowing her to do what she loved; but in practice, it still meant standing totally alone in front of a giant crowd.

Not one to back down, Kaitlyn had to trust that her spirit would carry her. The night of the first game, the solitary cheerleader walked out on the turf in front of coaches, teachers, and peers. Little did she know, she wasn’t really the only cheerleader out there that night.

Word had spread around town about the girl who was taking on a season of cheer all by herself. Students and parents alike were in awe of Kaitlyn’s feat and wanted to show their support for her bravery. And how do you show support for a cheerleader?

Cheer! That’s right, not only were the students of Messalonskee High School familiar with all the cheers, many of the parents were, too. As Kaitlyn kicked off the game with some school spirit, the stadium erupted in enthusiastic echoes.

It seems fitting that the school mascot was an eagle, a symbol of courage, strength, and power. This was exactly what Kaitlyn now represented, not only to Messalonskee, but to the entire community. Talk about a leader!

Many parents commended Kaitlyn’s confidence, telling local news she was truly an inspiration. But no one was a bigger cheerleader for Kaitlyn than her mom, Kim. When Kim first found out Kaitlyn was going to be Cheering alone her senior year, she said, “my heart just sank.”

Kim knew how much her daughter loved to cheer and the thought of her standing up in front of a crowd alone, understandably, conjured up motherly concerns. Kaityln’s confidence and positive attitude were contagious, and Kim couldn’t stand to see her daughter lose this part of herself to discouragement.

But as Kaitlyn nervously stood up on game night, what really stood out was her unassailable resilience. Kim couldn’t have been more proud of her daughter. Both of her parents were completely in awe of their little cheerleader.

While Kaitlyn’s cheering obviously caught the attention of locals, many news outlets were also impressed by her story and flocked to know more about the solo cheerer. What they found out, though, wasn’t much of a surprise…

Everyone loved Kaitlyn! Her dad might have said it best when he told Inside Edition, “It’s very, very emotional and very, very inspiring.” If a 17-year-old can stand alone for what she loves, then we all can. That is something everyone can cheer for — especially Arizona’s Becca Longo…

By the age of four, Becca Longo could already stand up on water skis. By the time she turned nine, she could launch a soccer ball a few dozen yards into the back of a well-defended goal.

Becca Longo / Instagram

She had a brother, Bobby, who was 11 years her senior. Though he wasn’t big on roping soccer balls in his free time, he did excel on the high school football field as a defensive end. Athletically, he challenged her.

Becca Longo / Instagram

As kids, they played a game: they’d swim out into Phoenix’s Lake Pleasant, and, while treading water, throw a football at each other as hard they could. Once, Bobby threw a tight spiral at Becca when she wasn’t looking.

For most, this would’ve ended with a Marsha Brady ow my nose moment. But Becca, after getting smacked with the ball, swam over to her brother, cocked back her hand, and smacked him so hard on the back it turned bright red.

This competitive drive and toughness never left Becca, and in her freshman year at Queen Creek High School in Chandler, Arizona, she became a star soccer and basketball player. Towards the end of the year, though, she saw something that didn’t sit right with her.

Becca Longo / Instagram

Queen Creek’s football team was practicing, and Becca noticed not a single woman lined up with the guys on the gridiron. Once again, her competitive drive flared.

So the talented soccer player took a trip 20 minutes south to Gilbert Christian High School, where the Arizona Cardinals hosted a prestigious football kicking camp attended by the state’s best kickers. All male.

There, she impressed, earning attention from Alex Zendejas, who’d coached seven all-state kickers in the previous ten years and had four family members who’d kicked in the NFL. “I was amazed at how much power Becca had,” Alex said.

Three days per week, the kicking expert worked with Becca, refining her rough technique and cultivating her natural talent. If she missed a kick, she’d grab another ball and try again — a habit she’d picked up from years of trying to outdo her brother.

Becca Longo / Instagram

Eventually, in 2014, the strong-legged soccer player marched into Queen Creek’s athletic director’s office her sophomore year and told him she’d be trying out to be the football team’s kicker. He laughed at her.

Becca Longo / Instagram

“A lot of people think, ‘Aw. She’s a girl. She can’t do this. She’s not strong enough, she’s not big enough,'” Becca said. “I think it’s just something inside of me. I don’t always have to prove myself — but I always want to.”

Becca Longo / Instagram

Prove herself she did: she made the junior varsity team with ease, and, within fifteen seconds of the game starting, she had to make her first kick — an extra point. A chip shot, relatively speaking, that terrified her.

Becca Longo / Instagram

She ran onto the field. She couldn’t feel her leg — it was shaking, practically vibrating. Her nerves were taking over. “I can’t do this,” she told the player charged with holding the ball for her kick. “Just run it in.” He shook his head. “Becca,” he yelled, “just kick the ball!”

So she did — and it soared through the uprights! The crowd erupted, and in her excitement, she nearly passed out. That year, she made 30 out of 33 extra point attempts, and nailed all four field goals she lined up for — including a season long 30 yarder.

You would think Becca’s success between the uprights would have made her revered within the hallways of Queen Creek High School. Unfortunately, bullies don’t take field goal percentage into consideration.

Becca Longo / Instagram

Becca couldn’t walk through the hallways without hearing snide whispers. When she wore her jersey to school, hushed voices referred to her as the “the girl wearing her boyfriend’s jersey.”

Becca Longo / Instagram

Yep, despite her being a wildly successful kicker, students chose to treat her like a charity case — someone who was on the team because she was a girl, not because she was an elite kicker with a powerful leg.

Becca Longo / Instagram

Even for thick-skinned Becca, this was too much. She wasn’t playing football because she wanted to make a point; her efforts weren’t a social commentary. She just loved football, and she wanted to play. She needed a change.

Becca Longo / Instagram

After consulting with her parents, Becca left the halls of Queen Creek High School behind, transferring down the road to Basha High School instead. There, she hoped, she could make a mark as a football player.

Becca Longo / Instagram

Unfortunately, transfer rules dictated she had to sit out a year, which is just about the worst thing you can tell an ultra-competitive person. Frustrated, Becca trained and trained and trained until making the team her senior year was easy.

Becca Longo / Instagram

As a senior, the coach gave Becca a chance to earn her teammates’ respect when he had her kick in front of the whole team on day one. For every kick she missed, the team had to run sprints. She started at the 7-yard line and backed up five yards with each kick.

She made every kick, including a 42 yarder, an impressive distance for a teenager. “That was the moment that everybody just bought into Becca,” the coach said. She won their respect. She was their kicker — not just the girl on the team.

AZ Central

In her 2016 senior year, she made 92 percent (35 of 38) of her extra point attempts, and those three misses were not inaccurate, just blocked. This success caught the attention of certain people in high places.

Josh Blankenship, the offensive coordinator for the Adams State football team — a division II school located four hours south of Denver in Alamosa, Colorado — needed a kicker for his team. He saw footage of Becca’s two years kicking.

Josh drove down to meet the powerful kicker, and, impressed with her character and competitive drive, offered her a chance to try out for the Adams State team. Wanting to continue to play the game she loved, Becca accepted.

Becca Longo / Instagram

So in a Colorado February — in other words, on a very cold day — Becca, facing high winds, attempted 25 field goals in front of coaches. When she was done with her tryout, Becca was miserable. By her standards, she’d done a terrible job.

Luckily, her standards were incredibly high: the Arizona girl had made 23 of 25 field goal attempts and was automatic from within 35 yards! This convinced the coaches she was right for the team.

In an unprecedented move, coaches offered Becca a scholarship, making her the first woman athlete in history to earn a football scholarship from a Division I or II team! “I was just so grateful that somebody believed in me,” Becca said.

Becca Longo / Instagram

Of course, the scholarship didn’t earn her total respect. “She’s going to get drilled by a 300-pound lineman,” a critic Tweeted. “She’s just a publicity stunt,” another chimed. But Becca, as she’d done with her brother in Lake Pleasant, hit back.

“If they want to think that, they can think that,” she said. “Then I’m just going to kick a game-winning, 55-yard field goal — see how loud they are then. I’ve been doubted in everything I’ve done. Being mentally strong is the only defensive mechanism I have.”

Aaron Ontiveroz / ESPN

As a redshirt freshman — meaning she was on the team, but not part of the active game-day roster — she trained further, determined, like always, to be the best. Soon, she could hit 54-yard field goals. Forty yarders were easy.

In the 2018 season, she was locked in a competition with kickers Tiago Paim and Montana Gomez for the starting job, which Montana secured. That didn’t slow Becca down, though — she just grabbed the dumbbells and kept on training.

Aaron Ontiveroz / ESPN

“She gets after it just like all of us,” Adam State’s senior quarterback Jorge Hernandez said. “She’s not just here to be on the team. She’s here to play.” She fit right in.

Becca Longo / Instagram

Her drive and determination to be the best had few doubting that, eventually, she’d nab the starting role for the Adams State Grizzlies. In the meantime, she was happy just to compete: “I’m playing college football,” she said. “How cool is that?”

Aaron Ontiveroz / ESPN

As of 2019, a woman had never made it to the National Football League, but then again, a woman had never made the Queen Creek team, either. So when Becca Longo looks at the womanless league, she has the same thought she had when she saw the womanless high school team: why not me?

Becca Longo / Instagram

Of course, not all sports standouts are rewarded. Just about everyone in North Andover, Massachusetts, knew Erin Cox was a star. The 17-year-old had a bright future ahead of her, but then one fateful night in 2013 threatened everything she worked for.

Yahoo Sports

Word spread throughout North Andover High School about a huge party going down that weekend. There would be no parents, no rules. However, Erin decided right away that she wasn’t going to attend.

After all, it was right in the middle of volleyball season! As the captain, Erin needed to keep her wits about her. Plus, if the party turned out as wild as everyone said, some serious trouble could arise.

Instead, Erin spent a quiet night at home, but her peace of mind vanished when her cell phone chirped out of the blue. The volleyball star got a text from a friend at the big party. She needed Erin’s help — badly.

Without telling her parents, Erin sped over and saw that the party indeed lived up to the hype. Teenagers packed the house, and there was alcohol everywhere. But where was the friend who called her?

Flickr / AnarchyWithoutAdjectives

Erin finally located her friend, but she was in rough shape. She couldn’t even work up the strength to get in Erin’s car and ride home, so Erin had to wait for her to recover. Erin nervously looked around as the party grew rowdier and more out of control.

The good mood evaporated when the whine of police sirens approached. A number of partygoers fled, but Erin couldn’t leave her friend alone. She gulped as officers entered the house and scoped out the empty cans that littered the floor.

Having busted their fair share of parties, the police knew underage drinkers when they saw them. They arrested eight North Andover students, though Erin was not among them. However, they weren’t done with yet…

SQ Attorneys

Other students told police that Erin — the last person anyone expected to get in trouble — had in fact shown up at the party. It was bad enough when authorities informed her she would receive a court summons. Then, the school punished her too.

ABC News

North Andover High School didn’t just suspend Erin. They also went after her volleyball credentials, banning her for the next five games and stripping away her captaincy. Suddenly, everything she worked for was gone.

The decision broke the heart of Erin’s mom, Eleanor. She felt the athletic suspension was excessive and unfair — wasn’t her daughter simply trying to help a friend in need? Eleanor opened up the phone book to find a good lawyer.

ABC News

Eleanor got in touch with experienced attorney Wendy Murphy, who took on Erin’s case. Wendy said that she wanted to do more than just challenge the school’s decision with a lawsuit; she wanted to take Erin’s story public.

Business Insider

After all, the school went far beyond giving Erin a slap on the wrist. As an aspiring college volleyball player, every game counted toward making her dream come true. Aside from that, had she really done anything wrong?

Wendy honed in on North Andover superintendent Kevin Hutchinson’s judgment. She characterized his stance on underage drinking as a “zero tolerance” policy. In addition to the rule itself being unfair, no one actually said Erin consumed alcohol at the party.

Eagle Tribune

Police officer Brian Neeley chimed in to support Erin’s defense. He said she “was polite, articulate, steady on her feet, and very remorseful for her decision to go into the residence but was only helping a friend out that had called her for a ride.”

Wicked Local Photo / Kathryn O’Brien

Furthermore, Wendy argued Erin’s discipline violated Title IX guidelines, which banned gender discrimination in educational settings. Specifically, male athletes in Erin’s class broke similar rules, and their punishments were nowhere near as severe.

North Andover Public Schools

Wendy implored North Andover to reconsider their policies, as Erin only showed up at the party to come to her friend’s aid. To Wendy, it seemed clear that Erin’s name needed to be cleared.

After all, did the school really want to encourage their students to drive drunk rather than break the rules? By doing this to Erin, the administration was setting a dangerous precedent.

All eyes turned to Judge Kevin Gaffney. The resulting decision shocked everyone. Gaffney ended up tossing out the entire case. Erin would simply have to wait out her suspension and hope for the best when it came time for college recruitment.

Eagle Tribune / Amanda Sabga

Weeks later, Erin finally made her grand return to the court. She felt stunned when a huge wave of applause greeted her. Through it all, the North Andover community stuck by her side. Erin only hoped the controversy wouldn’t hurt her volleyball career.

Boston Globe

Erin rediscovered her groove almost immediately. As a matter of fact, she stood out the rest of the season and accomplished her number one goal: the next year, she earned a spot on the Southern New Hampshire University team! No judge could take that away from her.

Sports aren’t just a hobby or after school activity. For some kids, playing sports becomes their whole world, and any threat to take that away from them is taken very seriously. That’s why Erin took her volleyball battle to court, and it’s why one little girl from California took her love of basketball to the pros…

At 9 years old, Riley Morrison from Napa, California, had already fallen in love with sports. In 2018, her love for one team — and one player in particular — catapulted her into the national spotlight.

You’d be hard pressed to find a bigger basketball fan than Riley. She had a hoop at home she took shots on — often by herself, rain or shine — and played point guard for her school’s team.

Living in northern California, Riley came to love watching her Golden State Warriors thrash their NBA competition. She and her dad Chris rarely ever missed a game, whether they watched on TV or cheered in person at the Warrior’s Oracle Arena.

NBC News

And for a student and lover of basketball, the Warriors were a delight to watch. As someone who wanted to perfect her point guard game, Riley had one player she admired most…

ABC7 News

Steph Curry! The Warriors’ star point guard has collected a trophy case full of NBA championships and MVP awards. He’s arguably the most exciting player in basketball — unless you’re a LeBron James fan, of course.

Fansided

Watching the Warriors star tear up the court, Riley wanted to be just like Steph. She couldn’t play like him just yet — that would take a growth spurt and a lot more practice — but there was one way she could mimic her idol’s game.

In November of 2018, she decided to step into Steph’s shoes (literally). Riley had her heart set on a pair of his signature kicks, the Icon Curry 5 sneakers produced by the sporting gear giant Under Armour. Unfortunately, her heart broke later that day.

Seeing that the online store hawked all kinds of Curry swag, Riley eagerly scrolled through the website. It sold tons of different colors and patterns of the Curry 5’s, but Riley noticed a disappointing detail.

Chandler

The shoe variety ended with color and pattern. Riley could not find a single pair of the shoes in girls’ sizes. This revelation was tough for the 9-year-old to swallow.

Riley only wanted to emulate her idol by buying his sneakers, and yet she couldn’t — all because of her gender. Sure, Riley knew this wasn’t the worst discrimination women had faced, but it seemed unthinkable in this day and age.

Meanwhile, even the dopiest boy basketball players could get their hands on any pair of shoes they wanted. Riley realized that other girls must have found themselves in the same predicament. She decided to do something about it.

In a gutsy move, Riley chose to go straight to the man himself. She penned a heartfelt letter to Steph Curry detailing her experience and asking for a change. As a big fan, she felt confident that Curry would agree with her based on his personal background.

NBC News

Riley’s letter read like this: “Dear Stephen Curry. My name is Riley (just like your daughter)…I asked my dad to buy me the new Curry 5s because I am starting a new basketball season).” Clearly, she’d done her research!

Wayne Freedman / Twitter

For one thing, Steph is a proud father to two daughters, one of whom does indeed share Riley’s name! The basketball phenom often brings them to NBA events, and he has publicly advocated for a better future for girls their age. Her letter continued.

NBA / Andrew Bernstein

“I visited the website,” she wrote. “And was disappointed there were no Curry 5s for sale under the girl’s section. However, they did have them for sale under the boy’s section, even to customize.” She wasn’t finished.

KLTV

“I know you support girl athletes because you have two daughters and you host an all-girls basketball camp.” She signed off with a simple note: “Girls want to rock the Curry 5s, too.”

bckonline

Clearly, Riley understood her audience perfectly. Curry had once said, “I want [my daughters] to grow up in a world where their gender does not feel like a rulebook for what they should think, or be, or do. And I want them to grow up believing that they can dream big, and strive for careers where they’ll be treated fairly.”

Kristi Rieken

That’s why Steph indeed founded an all-girls basketball camp. Always looking to provide young women with more opportunities to succeed, he is an athlete who uses his public platform for good. But would he even read some random fan letter?

Jeff Chiu

As luck would have it, Riley’s letter made it on to social media channels; there, people sympathetic to Riley’s troubles helped push the letter to Steph’s various pages.

Bob Donnan / USA TODAY Sports

That was how Stephen Curry, busy as he was in the thick of an NBA season, received Riley’s letter. He read the hand-written letter over and digested all it had to say.

And he was completely mortified about his shoes’ biased availability. It seemed Riley was right to suspect that her idol really did care about the women’s issues he fought so hard for! Steph knew he had to do something.

Ray Chavez / Bay Area News Group

He called up his management, and they discussed how to right this biased wrong. A few moments on the phone was all it took for the NBA superstar to come up with the perfect solution to Riley’s dilemma…

SLAM

“We are correcting this now!” Steph said before sitting down with some pen and paper of his own. This way, he could deliver a truly personal response to Riley.

Still in a funk a couple days later, Riley slunk back home from school. However, her parents dropped a huge surprise on her. A smile quickly returned to Riley’s face as she read over a handwritten response from Steph Curry.

NBC Sports

In the letter, the Warriors phenom said that he was working with Under Armour to correct the sizing issue, and he thanked Riley for bringing the issue to his attention. He also wanted to reward his super-fan for taking such a bold stand.

Twitter / Steph Curry

Steph promised Riley that he’d send her a pair of Curry 5s very soon, but he didn’t stop there. He also pledged that Riley would be one of the first kids in the world to get the Steph Curry 6s, his latest shoe model. Nobody on Earth owned it yet!

What a huge victory for Riley! With the sick kicks in hand and the assurance that Curry’s shoes would be available in all sizes, she could have rested easy. But Steph then posed an unexpected question for her.

To cap it all off, he asked Riley to join him on court in Oakland for International Women’s Day! The Warriors would celebrate girl power and the unifying nature of sports during that game. Steph couldn’t think of any better representative than the brave nine-year-old.

Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon

Of course, Riley accepted the invitation without a second thought. She could hardly believe the incredible impact her letter had, but as it turned out, there was still more good to come.

NBC Sports

As all kids know, whether you’re naughty or nice, it shows up under the tree. However, this year it wasn’t Santa that delivered the ultimate gift.

On Christmas morning two boxes were waiting under the tree that read “To: Riley From: Steph Curry!” Just as promised, Riley got the first-ever pair of the Steph Curry 6 shoes for GIRLS! And she wasn’t the only one who got something…

Steph certainly got a lot of satisfaction from the experience too. Riley allowed him to make a real difference for his family and women everywhere. Steph has heard tons of supporters applaud him over the years. But this time around, the superstar was clapping for a fan.

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