By Bill Althaus
Long after the final score of Van Horn High School's 49-6 victory over African Centered Education College Prep is forgotten, a moment that took place at halftime will live forever thanks to a romantic fiancée, a stunned cheerleading coach and the World Wide Web.
Van Horn cheer coach Crystal Escobar led her Falcon squad to its first ever state championship appearance this year, and she thought that activities director Chris Corrie was going to honor her and the Falcon cheerleaders during a brief halftime ceremony.
Because of the honor, Escobar had invited her fiancée, Trevor Julo to the game. As the first half wound down and the two teams left the field, Escobar looked around for Julo, but he was nowhere to be found.
“I was pretty upset,” Escobar said. “I'd text him, and he'd text me back saying he got tied up at work. I just knew he was going to miss it.”
Escobar was presented a bouquet of flowers from principal Patrick Layden and the girls lined up behind their coach and formed four pyramids.
But instead of holding placards that encouraged the fans to cheer with the statement "VAN HORN HIGH SCHOOL," they held up signs that read "WILL YOU MARRY ME?"
Escobar's back was to her cheerleaders when she caught Julo walking down on the field in a vest and tie – not his usual football attire.
Soon, the couples' favorite song “Never Stop” by SafetySuit began playing over the PA system and Escobar turned and saw the cheerleaders' signs.
“I knew something was going on when I heard our song,” Escobar said. “I knew our AD wouldn't know anything like that, and there'd be no reason to play it. Then I saw Trevor and the signs and I couldn't believe what was happening.”
She really couldn't believe what happened the next morning, when the calls began to pour in from family and friends who saw the entire halftime ceremony play out on the Internet.
“I'm a pretty private person, but I have to admit, it was all pretty cool,” Escobar said.
“I am so proud of Crystal,” Julo said. “Crystal has worked no less than three jobs in order to help her family. She is currently getting her master's degree at the University of Missouri, working as a dance instructor and she is a first-year teacher and second-year cheer coach at Van Horn.
“If anyone deserved something special, it was Crystal.”
Escobar is part of one of the most remarkable turnarounds in Van Horn history as her Falcons placed seventh at state competition in their first appearance there.
“I don't know anything about cheerleading personally but I do know about sports,” Julo said, “and any team that can qualify and compete at state competition in less than two years of training is something to be proud of.
“We've talked about getting married and I wanted to make the moment special, something she would never forget.”
Escobar still can't believe Julo pulled it off, without anyone letting her know what was happening.
“I can't believe 20 girls could keep it a secret,” she said, laughing, referring to her cheer squad. “They all feel like Trevor is a part of our cheerleading family, and they were as pleased and thrilled as I was.”
The moment after he proposed, Escobar and Julo were mobbed by the cheerleaders.
“It was a great big bear hug,” Julo said. “It was the perfect way to end halftime.”
And because of the Internet, people across the world were able to witness the special event.
“It's kind of funny, I read some of the comments people made about the proposal – saying it wasn't original, things like that – and I got upset. But Trevor calmed me down, and I forgot about it.
“And he did make a couple of mistakes. He forgot most of his speech and he put the ring on the wrong finger, but it was the most special moment of my life and it was perfect – absolutely perfect.”
Oh, one question remains.
What if she would have said no?
“No, I knew that wouldn't happen,” Julo said, laughing. “I knew she was a little bit upset because I kept texting her that I would be late – even though I was already at the stadium – but I knew she'd say yes. After all that planning, how could she say no?”