BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — Laura Shupe has been coaching cheer since 1985, and for the last 10 years she has been with the Flying Eagles at Woodrow Wilson High School.

“Our cheer team here has had a great reputation. We’ve been to states for the last 8 years, won regionals the last 7 years. We’ve placed 1 through 5 in the MSAC every year that we’ve been in it,” Shupe said.

On Friday, October 9, 2020, as her girls were getting ready to cheer on the football team, Shupe was named the National Federation of State High Schools WVSSAC Cheer Coach of the Year for the 2019-2020 season.

“It actually was a very pleasant, shocking surprise. They handed me a letter Friday night at the football game, and to be honest with you, I got teary eyed,” Shupe recalled.

It was not just a surprise for her, it was also a surprise for her girls; a surprise of which they said she is so deserving. Mallory Daniel, one of her cheerleaders, was standing next to her when the announcement was made.

“I was probably just as excited as she was, and was like oh my gosh because she has coached for so long and she is really deserving of it,” Daniel said.

For Shupe, cheer is more than just doing stunts and cheering on the sidelines. It is about the life lessons she teaches her squad on the mat.

“To always value yourself, to always make a difference in the world, and always be kind,” said Shupe.

The girls say she is a great coach, but an even better teacher. Katie Haga, a senior cheerleader, said she is thankful for everything Shupe taught her. Haga said she will bring a lot of those lessons into the next chapter of her life.

“What she has taught me that will stick with me is to always have a positive attitude when we run into something new. You always have to look at it the best and the best outcome you can possibly have,” said Haga.