SUBMITTED PHOTO - Tigerette dancers Rachael Keenan, Camryn Flint, Rachel Blackwell and Amanda Lam dance during Saturdays national championship in Anaheim, Calif. The school brought home first place and two second-place finishes, the best any school in Oregon has ever done at the competition. When Tigard High School dancer Amanda Lam found out she was a national champion, she was in line for a roller coaster.

The 17-year-old Tigard senior was one of more than 40 girls from Tigard’s Tigerette dance team competing in the United Spirit Association Dance Nationals in Anaheim, Calif., last week, where she and the rest of the team brought home a national championship.

For a video of the Tigerette's first place performance, click here

The Tigerettes are the first dance team in Oregon to win a national championship, according to the school’s head coach Linda Sheron.

The school took home first place in the “large dance/pom” category, where dancers use pom-poms as part of their routine. The school also brought home two second-place awards in the Open Large Lyrical and Open Large Dance categories.

Lam said no one on the team was expecting the school to do so well.

“One of our coaches was like, ‘Well, you guys should go and spend some time at Disneyland. I’m sure you’ll be in the top 10, but it will probably be a sixth- or seventh-place trophy.”

Skipping the awards ceremony, the girls spent the afternoon in Disneyland, while coaches and a few parents went to represent the school.

“And gosh darn if we didn’t win the darn thing,” said Sheron, who has coached the Tigerettes dance team for 35 years.

Once news of the championship reached the students, Lam said they all rushed to the awards ceremony as fast as they could.

“I thought they were joking,” Lam said. “We were in line for the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and we were screaming. It was just not real.”

‘Quite impressive’

It has been a whirlwind week for the team, which took home second-place at the OSAA Dance and Drill state championships on March 22.

After being crowned national champions, the students took a clinic with Disney choreographers and danced in a parade at Disneyland, where Tigard High School’s band performed.

The school has been to the national championship in the past, Sheron said. But this is the first year the school has won, and the first time it has placed in the top two in three separate events.

“It’s quite an honor,” Sheron said.

Sheron said the team’s hard work on the dance floor, coupled with the team’s impressive size, were what put the school over the top.

“It was the overall effect,” she said. “We were competing with teams of 12 kids or 30 kids, and we come out with 41. It’s quite impressive.”

Tigard High School boasts one of the largest dance teams in the state, Sheron said. Between its varsity and junior varsity teams, Tigard has about 60 dancers competing.

The team and the Tigard High School band take a trip every other year, performing in Canada, San Francisco, New York or Anaheim.

But it’s expensive. Students fundraise for the trip on their own, Sheron said. Entry fees into the competition are $100 per dancer.

With 41 girls on the team, that’s no small change.

“It is a real learning trip for the kids in so many different ways,” Sheron said.

Sheron hopes to make it back to the championships soon and recruiting for next year’s dance team begins later this month.

Lam, who has danced with the Tigerettes all four years of high school, said she couldn’t think of a better way to end the season.

“All I’ve ever wanted was a championship my entire high school career,” she said. “This was the last time we competed as a team this year, and we came through. I am so happy, and I am leaving the Tigerettes with everything I’ve ever wanted.”

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