ROTTERDAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — For the past decade, Emmalynn Donvito has been on a journey. “I started with gymnastics,” said the Mohonasen senior. “I did gymnastics and dance. Then my sister started to get into cheerleading and I followed right in her footsteps.”

She admits she didn’t really know what cheerleading was all about when she first started, but quickly got hooked. “I remember the first time I saw a video of cheerleading. It was Maryland Twisters F5,” Donvito said. “I would look at their videos and I wanted to be that. I wanted to do that. I wanted to be those girls.”

The flyer competed with her school and local all-star teams, but always pictured herself in an F5 uniform. “I’ve been dreaming of it for so long,” Donvito explained.

She outgrew a lot of the programs where she was cheering locally, but the team she really wanted to be part of didn’t seem to be a realistic possibility. After all, it was located in Maryland and Donvito lives in upstate New York.

Her “pipe dream” saw a glimpse of hope in 2020, thanks to an unlikely ally: COVID-19. The pandemic, which like a tornado has left a path of destruction in most cases, actually carved out a path for Donvito’s dream. With her season cancelled, Donvito put together a video in her extra time and sent it out. Not only was she invited to join the Maryland Twisters F5 team, but she logistically could make it happen with her school going remote.

“I moved in with a host family. It all happened so fast. It was such a dream come true,” she said. The move came with sacrifices, missing meaningful events at Mohonasen. “Definitely with all of the senior nights and all the games, it was hard,” Donvito admitted, “but Mohon did a great job of inserting me into all the senior activities.”

In Maryland, Donvito dove head first into online learning. She graduated early, and has focused solely on cheering since January. Her team recently competed at worlds down at Disney, the final stop on her high school cheerleading journey.

She’s headed to Navarro College next, her dream destination. Netflix did a docuseries on the nationally-ranked cheer team.

“It blows my mind,” she said. “I never thought I would be where I am today.”

Donvito plans to pursue business at the Texas-based school, with the hope of taking over her grandfather’s jewelry business someday. She also plans to stay in the cheer world for as long as possible.