My Love Affair With Cheerleading
I’ve been an All star cheerleader almost as long as I’ve been a student.
When I was 7, and my sister was 4, our babysitter convinced our mom to take us to watch her cheer.
Mom, always keen to support anyone, thought it was a cool idea so she packed us off the venue to watch West Coast Cheer perform.
From the moment Shaye and I saw the cheerleaders in their cool uniforms (polyester!), makeup and bows, we were completely hooked.
That was 10 years and 3 cheer clubs ago.
Since then we have won numerous titles, medals and trophies. We’ve been to the World Championships of Allstar cheerleading in Orlando Florida. We have national titles in both the US and Canada and we have traveled all over North America to compete at the sport’s highest level.
If cheerleading gave me the body I have, it also gave me something much more important. It gave me discipline. School was tough but cheer was always somewhere I could go and excel. It’s fun to look back now at old photos of when I was little and idolized the “big girls” and realize that now, I’m the big girl.
For the last several years I’ve been a coach and a mentor to tons of little girls while still competing on high-level teams. I love teaching little kids how to tumble and watching them as they learn a new skill. They’re so cute and happy!
It didn’t take me long to realize that not everyone took commitment seriously. Allstar cheer is one of those sports that you have to show up to, like rowing. If you don’t, your stunt group isn’t able to practice. My sister and I have been at cheer with pneumonia, broken collarbones, sprained ankles and blown knees. We learned, early on, that the team depended on us being there.
I didn’t always want to be there when I was sick or hurt but, looking back, I can see why we went. I’m now the “reliable one” at work or at school. People I babysit or friends I make plans with know that I won’t bail on them. Sometimes it’s frustrating that it’s not reciprocated but I know that I’m proud of being reliable and I have no intention of changing that.
Its really only now that I can see just how much cheer has given me. It kept me focused throughout a time when lots of my peers were checking out. I’ve never been a partier (who has time?!) I eat well. I know the importance of regular exercise and because I’ve been doing it my whole life, I am lost without it.
But I think that the most important thing I’ve learned from being an elite athlete in a team sport is that you’re only ever really as good as your team. Building up your team and helping each other has simply been a part of my everyday life and I see how it now seeps into everything from work, to coaching to personal relationships.
I’ve really loved cheer over the years and hope to be part of it for many years to come!