The Road to Competition
Parents, coaches and cheerleaders awaken early the morning of competition. We’re all groggy and tired until some sort of caffeine is forced into our system. The sun’s not even out yet. The squad of girls are surprisingly quiet. They’re half asleep getting their hair and makeup done up just right. Hair gets pulled back and tied back tight, some girls wince and speak out loud their pain. Make-up is up next; eyeshadow, blush, red lips and glitter, glitter, everywhere. From bed head to cheer perfection in a few short hours. Sleepy heads finally awaken from their slumber, ready for the exciting day ahead.
We arrive at our destination and the girls say goodbye to their parents as the coaches and team moms get the girls checked in and in to our seats. The girls are so excited, giggling and laughing as we take our seats on the stands. Coaches discuss whether we have everything: music, snacks, do a hair and make-up check. Today is the day we’ve been waiting for. Months and months of practice have gone into this two minute and thirty second routine: blood, sweat, tears and bruised egos. As a coach, you’re so proud and nervous for them at the same time. As a former cheerleader, I know what they’re feeling as well. Giggling excitement before the nerves set in when you see the big blue mat and questions begin.
“What if we fall?
“But what if we do?”
“Just smile and keep on going.”
“What if I forget the moves?”
“You girls have been practicing this routine every day for the past few months. You got this girls. You’ll do awesome and we all are so proud of you. Give it your all. Now bring it in.” All hands are put in the center. “On three…1…2…3 BRONCOS!!” They are ready to go.
Butterflies form in the pit of my stomach as I watch them step onto the mat. I have to put on a smile and not let my nerves show, although at this moment I’m feeling a panic attack coming on. The girls get to their spots and it’s time to signal the music. Here goes nothing. The routine may go off with or with out a hitch, but it doesn’t matter. As a coach I’m sitting there watching them give it their all. They start with a tumbling pass across the mat – forward rolls, somersaults and cartwheels. They move into a pyramid formation and begin their first dance. Motions are tight, jumps are high and their stunts go up and cradle down. They are completely in sync. They do a cheer and their voices are louder than they ever were at any game or practice. Some more stunts, a new song and dance and they finish with a big stunt and the crowd goes wild. Tears well in my eyes and we gather in a huge bear hug. Whether we place or not, they did absolutely amazing and they have made us – coaches, parents and team moms – all very, very proud.
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