Joey Sullivan says there's little difference between delivering a jarring tackle on the football field and watching his fellow show choir members perform solos on stage.
Either way, the crowd roars and the Wheaton Warrenville South High School senior gets pumped up.
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What is different, he says, is that while he has some great buddies on the football team, he considers his choir team a part of his family.
"These are my brothers and sisters," he said. "This national championship is the culmination of everything. It's like Christmas Day is a family gathering."
After capturing a state championship on the gridiron in the fall, Sullivan and the school's Classics show choir now can call themselves national champs after winning the FAME Show Choir Championship Series. On Thursday, students and school officials paid tribute to the show choir during an in-school assembly.
"We will never stop celebrating our student successes," Principal Dave Claypool said during the assembly, which packed the bleachers in the school's gymnasium. "It's (your) effort, determination and perseverance that makes this school special."
The competition featured five regionals that included about 12 show choirs each. That narrowed the competitors to 11 teams that went to the national finals in Indianapolis.
Not only did the Classics win the Show Choir Cup for the overall team title, but senior Matthew Moore won the best male solo award and Jeff Jordan won the best male stage presence. Additionally, four students took home the honor for best rhythm section.
"It amazes me that they can do things we only dream of," Classics director John Burlace said. "They brought life into what we asked of them."
Moore, the best male solo winner, said he was speechless when he found out the Classics won the FAME series title.
"It's the best experience I have ever had in my high school career," he said. "There are no words to describe it. It's just the coolest feeling ever."