Katrina Kohel refused to give up after her teammates quit just days before the Nebraska State Cheerleading Championship.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on February 28, 2023. It has since been updated.
Katrina Kohel's story of courage and determination has struck a chord with many people around the world. When the 17-year-old Morrill High School senior was left without teammates just days before the Nebraska State Cheerleading Championship, she refused to give up and instead chose to compete alone. Kohel's incredible performance captured on video has earned her national recognition, admiration and respect. On February 17, Kohel was set to compete alongside her three other teammates in the state championship. However, just days before the event, those three freshmen quit due to personal reasons. Rather than giving up, Kohel's coach encouraged her to attend the championship as either a spectator or a competitor. Kohel chose the latter because she wanted to end her senior year with a bang. "I decided I wanted to go and still compete because I wanted to end my senior year with a bang, and I didn’t want to give up on cheerleading because it has been such a huge part of my life," she continued. "The three freshmen quit for personal reasons," Kohel told FOX Television Stations.
When she stepped into the arena, Kohel said she felt a surge of nervousness that she had not experienced before. Despite this, she completed her solo routine with energy and enthusiasm, which the crowd and her competitors cheered her on. Kohel said the feeling was "amazing" and it was humbling to know that her competitors were willing to show her such support.
Kohel ended up placing 8th out of the 12 competing teams. The judges had to adjust her score since she could not perform certain stunts alone, but Kohel said she was proud of what she had achieved. She was also touched by the acclaim she received for going solo, saying it showed that with the right mindset and determination, anything is possible. Kohel's coach, April Ott, was also praising her for her performance, saying that the amount of love and support from the arena was "beyond phenomenal and rewarding". Ott added that it was an amazing end to Kohel's senior cheer career.
"I’m just so proud of Katrina and the performance she put on out there on the mat," Kohel’s coach, April Ott, said to FOX Television Stations. "The amount of love and support from the spectators and teams in that arena was absolutely phenomenal and rewarding." Kohel said that although one of her former teammates had apologized for quitting, she was not angry at them and respected their decision. Looking to the future, Kohel plans to enlist in the U.S. Air Force before going to college and is undecided as to whether she will keep cheerleading or hang up her pom-poms for good.
Katrina Kohel's story is one of courage and resilience. She is undoubtedly an inspiration to us all. Her determination to compete alone and finish what she had started is an example of the strength of the human spirit. Kohel has shown us that whenever people face adversity, it is possible for everyone to overcome any obstacle and achieve success.