LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - As a teenager, Carly Smith already had her goals set for college.
"I started...dreaming about trying out for Pom Squad definitely my junior year of high school," Carly said.
Her chance to join the team came in 2011, her freshman year at Texas Tech.
"You know exactly what you have to do when you come in," she said. "It's really easy."
However, once she auditioned, she discovered it was more difficult than she thought.
"I didn't make it and it was hard at first, but I got over it," she said. "It was a difficult audition, so I told myself I might as well try again."
After a year of practicing and tweaking, she returned to tryouts in 2012.
"I knew what I had to fix," she said, "and I worked on it and I came back."
Once again, Carly said nerves got the best of her.
"I was like within three spots of making the team," she said, "so that was really heartbreaking."
Then, she did something Pom Squad Coach Erin Harold has never seen before.
"She had the notes from the year before, a year," Harold said. "It was on one piece of paper and I typed them out and she had highlighted, she had written on it, she had crossed things out that she worked on."
Another year of memorizing these notes and countless hours in front of a dance studio mirror, Carly tried out for the team again in 2013.
"I came back again," she said, "because I knew how close I was."
When officials finally announced the 2013 results, Carly felt an overwhelming disappointment.
"The same thing happened," she said. "I almost gave up."
After three years of hearing no, Carly still refused put her dance shoes up.
"Thinking about my future…" she said, "I didn't want to tell my kids that I gave up."
When she auditioned in May 2014, it was her senior year and her last chance to try out.
During her audition, Harold said she was impressed because Carly was relaxed and better than ever before.
"Seeing her apply my corrections told me she was pretty coachable," she said. "She earned her spot for sure."
Carly's persistence finally paid off as she was named a member of the 2014-2015 Pom Squad.
"If you really want it, you'll work hard enough and if you work hard enough, then you can make it, so don't give in," she said. "It's totally worth it when you do make it."
Texas Tech Spirit Program Director Stephanie Rhode said she followed Carly's journey from the beginning, and hopes Carly will visit Tech after her graduation to inspire other students.
"It's a story of discipline and you know, when I first met her, it was obvious that she had a love for this university," Rhode said. "You can't help but admire someone who is so dedicated and so focused on realizing her dream."