Just Like You
When I took my daughter to her first day of Kindergarten, my heart was pounding. So many thoughts raced through my head. Is she scared? Will the other kids like her? Will she make friends? Will her teacher be nice? As a parent, my greatest hope is that my children will be loved and accepted wherever they go.
When my daughter first entered the cheer world, I had the same fears. We have all seen the movies, where cheerleaders are cruel and evil, right? So yeah, I was a bit apprehensive. I didn’t want her to be surrounded by bad influences, and have her grow into the role of the mean girl.
I am so happy that our experiences have all been positive. From the beginning, I was so thrilled to see how quickly my daughter was accepted, and how fast strong bonds were formed. I was especially surprised to see the friendships formed between the older and younger cheerleaders.
I stumbled across this image recently, and it made me think about my daughter, and how she sees the older girls. I decided to share the quote with a few older cheerleaders, and ask them about their bonds with the younger ones.
Amber and Faith
At any given competition, these two are usually stuck to each other like glue. I shared the quote with Amber and asked what it meant to her.
“This quote means a lot to me because you always have to remember to try your hardest and do your best and be kind, because someone young is always watching and looking up to you and you want to set an example.”
And about her relationship with Faith…
“She’s like my little sister and in some ways I feel as if she’s like my daughter. I care for her so much. The fact that she’s in my life makes me overflow with joy. I would do anything for that girl.”
Being an inspiration and a role model goes both ways.
“I think Faith inspires me more than I inspire her. She’s so full of life and happiness and it makes me want to be happy too! And her tumbling skills are beautiful. It inspires me to be in the gym more and work hard. When you have a bond with someone that has so much life ahead of them and you get to watch them grow and succeed; it truly is a beautiful thing.”
Sharee and Shannon
When I shared the quote with Sharee, she said, “That’s why I cheer, believe it or not; because I was that little girl that would watch, and want to do what my sister did. I thought it was the coolest thing!”
There always comes a time when the young girl grows older, and becomes a role model herself.
“I grew up with my sister as my role model, constantly hoping I would grow up to be just like her, so I got to see how big of a responsibility it really is and how much younger girls really do strive to be like their role model. Then once I got older, she told me that I was now the same. All eyes were on what I was doing, those eyes being the eyes of the younger girls in the gym.”
Her relationship with Shannon, a younger cheerleader.
“Shannon is truly my little sister and I am thankful every day for her. I’ve been cheering for 11 years and have never had a bond with an 11 year old like I do with her. She reminds me of myself when I was her age, constantly wanting to get better, always working for new skills and not to mention she is super sassy just like me, which I adore.”
And it is always amazing when the younger ones inspire the older ones.
“Shannon does, in fact, inspire me. She inspires me to work hard in everything I do! She constantly reminds me that no matter how bad of a day I’m having, I can always come to the gym and see all of the people I love and suddenly forget about everything that upset me in the first place. She is my ray of sunshine, whenever I have a bad outlook on something, she comes and gives me a hug and tells me to push through, because everything will pay off in the end.”
Tessa and Peja
Seriously, if you aren’t filled with joy when you see these two sisters together, you might want to get your heart checked by a doctor. The bond between a young girl and her big sister is truly special. Every young girl looks up to her big sister. Like Sharee emulating her big sister, Peja aspires to be just like Tessa. I asked Tessa when Peja’s cheer desires began.
“She was actually less than one when she started copying me doing body positions and stretches.”
Since Tessa really isn’t that old, I asked her if she feels like a role model.
“Yes,and it makes me want to work harder to be able to be a good example. Being a role model to her and others makes me happy to know that they can look up to me, and a little nervous because I don’t want to mess up. I encourage her, but she is pretty amazing on her own!”
Cheerleading is such a special sport. Not only is it amazing to watch, but the lessons learned are priceless. I watch these athletes, younger and older, and I am always inspired. They set goals, work hard, learn from their mistakes, learn trust, and grow in their sport year after year. Now that I think about it, they are role models to me as well. I think all parents have something to learn from them.
These athletes win together, suffer defeat together, laugh together, cry together, and make lifetime memories together. They are family, and I know my daughter will have friends for life, thanks to this sport. I know that, as she grows older, she will become a role model herself. I’m excited for that, because I know she has learned from the best.
I know that when I drop my daughter off for practice, she is surrounded by people that love her, inspire her, and encourage her. As her father, I am perfectly fine with that.
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