Three flips later, Southern Cayuga freshman Sean Kennedy is a viral sensation.
A video showing Kennedy challenge the Groton High School cheerleading squad to a "gymnastics-off" has been covered by media company Buzzfeed and viewed more than 11 million times. The impromptu contest took place during the varsity boys basketball game between Southern Cayuga and Groton Jan. 19 at Southern Cayuga High School.
The video starts with Kennedy and two friends walking toward the Groton cheerleaders' bench to challenge them. Kennedy, 15, of Locke, told The Citizen Wednesday that he taught himself gymnastics for a few years before taking a year of classes at The Next Jennaration Dance Studio in Lansing. He called gymnastics "a way to express myself and have fun."
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And that's what Kennedy intended to do at the game. He said the challenge was spur-of-the-moment and "really nerve-wracking."
"We were originally going to walk through the side door, but we wanted it to be a really big deal so we walked across the entire gym," he said.
After the Groton cheerleaders dismiss him, the video shows Kennedy performing a back handspring and walking away. A cheerleader responds with a cartwheel and a back handspring of her own. Kennedy then performs a cartwheel and a backflip, and the video ends with him returning to his seat as the Southern Cayuga gym roars in approval.
Kennedy called it "the most I've ever heard anyone cheer at a high school basketball game."
The video was posted to Twitter the night of the game by Kennedy's friend Abby Sweet, who captioned it, "Posting this vid on every platform possible because my best friends an ICON." Kennedy and his friends thought it would be little more than a joke among them. But by the next morning, it had 18,000 views. As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, it had 11.3 million.
Buzzfeed picked up the story Tuesday night, and called the gymnastics battle a "made-for-Twitter version of 'Bring It On.'" Wednesday night, Kennedy and friends appeared on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" via video call, and told the late-night host how the "gymnastics-off" happened. And Sweet has tagged Ellen DeGeneres on Twitter in an effort to land the video on her show.
Kennedy and friends are also using their fame to launch a YouTube channel where they'll tell the story behind the video. They have plans to record music as well, he said.
For the freshman, though, the purpose of the video isn't views and media coverage.
"We want to spread positivity. We were trying to pump up the crowd and get everyone excited," he said. "I have a lot of respect for the cheerleaders who clapped back at me and I think we should support each other. Healthy competition is good."
Groton would go on to win the game, 58-56.
WATCH: Sean Kennedy and friends appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"
WATCH: Gymnastics battle at the Southern Cayuga/Groton basketball game
Posting this vid on every platform possible because— Abby💫 (@AbbyDaHuman) January 20, 2018
my best friends an ICON #iminthestripes pic.twitter.com/dlX8gvsmyq
Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.