Cheerleading coach Eboni Graham was at a wedding Saturday when her phone started buzzing uncontrollably as her team and friends excitedly texted her the news.
Earlier that day, Beyonce Knowles had posted a video on her Instagram story of the Winston-Salem State University cheerleading team dancing along to her cover of "Before I Let Go."
“It was just pure disbelief,” said Graham, head coach of WSSU’s Powerhouse of Red and White cheerleaders. “We did the video for fun, to have a good time, so it was just like ‘Is this really happening?’”
The video, filmed at center court of WSSU’s C.E. Gaines Center, features seven of the university’s cheerleaders dancing to “Before I Let Go.”
Beyonce performed the song — which was originally recorded by Frankie Beverly and Maze in 1981 — at Coachella last year, putting her own twist on the classic.
After the song capped off Beyonce’s Netflix special “Homecoming,” fans across the country began creating their own choreography for the song in what came to be known as the #BeforeILetGoChallenge.
“The challenge sparked interest across the country so we decided to join in, but we never expected this,” Graham said. “My girls are used to creating new and innovative things. It’s something we’re known for: keeping things new and fresh.”
A few of the team’s cheerleaders choreographed a dance to the song and filmed it within three days, she said.
The minute-long video was posted by the cheerleaders to Instagram on May 1.
With nearly 128 million Instagram followers, Beyonce’s repost Saturday was an inspiration to the team of 14, Graham said.
“My team was super excited, going on and on about it. It was a real boost of confidence,” she said. “Sometimes that recognition from someone bigger than your peers is what you need.”
Cheer captain Raissa Bryant said the news makes for a great kickoff to next year’s season, which starts in August.
New team members were selected a few weeks ago after March tryouts.
Bryant, a rising senior and exercise science major, said when she found out Beyonce had shared the video, she could barely contain her excitement.
"I was just screaming, so excited. I didn’t expect that video to go viral,” Bryant, 20, said. “It was our chance to show the world what we can do.”