When Taylor Thomas, a senior captain of the Deer Park Falconettes, stepped into the arena at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Walt Disney World on March 1, she knew this would be her final kickline performance.
“I put everything I had into it,” said Thomas, 18, of her team’s pom routine, which was set to Fall Out Boy’s “The Phoenix.”
When the music stopped, Thomas said she burst into tears.
“I was crying with excitement, because I felt really good about it,” she said.
And the tears kept coming for Thomas when later that night her team learned the performance won the national championship in the small division.
Head coach Ariel Miano said the Falconettes have been competing in the Contest of Champions Nationals for the past decade, and this was the third time they brought home a first-place trophy.
While the team had a successful season, going undefeated in the kick category of the Long Island Kickline Association’s local competitions, Miano said the “close-knit” group stepped it up for nationals.
“The girls had so much energy when they were performing and they were able to pull it all together in the end,” she said. “It was just flawless.”
Senior co-captain Toni Ann Cox said the routine was “high-energy and very intricate.”
“It showed off all our strengths,” Cox, 17, added.
Both Cox and Thomas said they were sad to see their four years with the kickline team come to an end, but couldn’t think of a better way to go out.
“It’s cool to be able to say, just sitting in a small town in Deer Park, that you’re a national champion,” Thomas said. “I will remember this for a long time.”