Reflecting on time as a cheerleader

As my last few games where I get to be a cheerleader quickly approach I am becoming more and more sad, but I am left with the best memories and experiences. I tried out for cheer at the end of my sophomore year, and these last two years I have never felt more fulfilled as an athlete. Cheer has brought me so many amazing things and I am so proud to put my uniform on every game day. I will miss cheer more than anything from high school.

One of the biggest things I’ve gotten out of being a cheerleader is the confidence that it’s given me. When I was a freshman there was no possible way I would have been able to perform in front of a crowd and know that I would do it right. At games in Hillsboro, it can seem like the entire town is in the stands, and that was nerve-wracking to me at first. Being able to be sure of myself after practicing cheers, stunts and dances for hours and hours and see myself succeed with the pressure on was something that I needed for myself. It’s been so rewarding to do everything just right and hear the crowd and my peers clap for the team and me, but even to know that when I mess up that it’s human and I can try again harder.

Getting to support our teams is so special and fun. When the team starts a cheer and all the kids in the student section yell along with us or clap to our fight song while we dance it makes us seem all united. We are all here to support the team on the court or the field and it also can seem like even though I might not know some people in the stands well, we’re all doing the same thing together.

My absolute favorite part of cheer is stunting. I have challenged my body in all-new ways that I haven’t before and didn’t even realize I could. Holding and throwing other people in a way that looks visually appealing sounds crazy but it is so fun. I never thought I would be putting a flyer into an extension, or having them stand on my shoulders, or throwing them into a flip in the air. It pushes my body in a way that catching or hitting a ball just never did. It also sounds more impressive to say I don’t life weights I lift people. Our team both last year and this year have improved so much in stunting. We have such talented and willing girls who want to jump in and try something new that seems scary, but the reward is so high when we nail it. It makes you trust your teammates in a whole new way. Getting to perform all of our stunts in front of a crowd is amazing not only because it’s fun, but we get to really show what all it means to be a cheerleader. It’s not just about looking pretty and doing cheers; there are so many hard aspects that take strength and technique and athleticism. Like any other sport, we practice and practice stunts, and sometimes are only left with sore muscles and bruises. But when it all comes together and the people in the stunt work in sync, the results are amazing.

Having a team where only 8 people can be involved, it makes you build strong and special relationships with one another. I’ve gotten so close with my teammates and become great friends with people I might not have otherwise. There have been many a therapy session before practice while stretching, giggles in the car, hugs and happy tears after a performance, shared bumps and bruises and funny inside jokes. All the girls I have gotten to cheer with make me happy and I’m very lucky. Another special relationship I’ve gotten is with my coach Kathy Klein. She has shown me what it really looks like to have a coach care about every individual on her team and who only wants to push us to be our best. I got very lucky to have my coach and my teammates.

It’s wild to think that at the end of this month I’ll never put my uniform on again or cheer for my teams or stunt with my friends. For the last few games I have coming up I will cherish every moment of them because I won’t get it back.

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