WALDOBORO — It was a dream season for the Medomak Valley High School cheer squad in 2021-22 as the Panthers completed the trifecta. Namely, capturing conference, regional and, the long-elusive state Class B, championships.

Now, Panther coach Heather Simmons, who lives in Friendship, has more hardware for the trophy case as she has been named the 2021-22 National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) State Cheering Coach of the Year.

Heather Simmons. Photo courtesy of Heather Simmons

“It’s an honor to be recognized by the state of Maine,” said Simmons. “I don’t stand on recognition hill alone. It’s not without great help and support from my family, assistant and youth coaches, parents and athletes and school administration that we have had a long-tenured, successful program. I am proud to represent Medomak Valley at the highest level of coaching recognition at the state level.”

Simmons is about to embark on her ninth season as head coach of the Panthers, though she was an assistant coach for years prior to the 2014-15 season. This year, Simmons will co-coach the Panthers with her sister and longtime Medomak Middle School cheer coach Leeann Benner.

In addition, Simmons will move forward into a pool of state awardees from the other seven Section 1 states (Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York) to be considered for Section 1 Cheering Coach of the Year and National Coach of the Year.

During her time as head coach, Simmons has led the Panthers to seven Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B titles, eight Class B regional championships and the school’s first state Class B cheer championship. MVHS has been among the top three in the state in most recent years.