I came across this photo today while scrolling through my Facebook & strangely, it couldn’t be more accurate. At least in my opinion. This photo was made and posted by a dear friend whom is a teacher and a head coach at a high school for sideline and competitive cheerleading. For those of who you may think that cheerleading is a rah-rah let’s throw my pom poms around and let’s see how short I can hike up my skirt, I can assure you, you are very, very wrong. Take a brief moment, open a new tab, type in YouTube and you know what better yet — click here.
Are you finished? Great, let’s move on.
And why yes, they may have on a crop top and a short skirt/shorts… it is no different than what your average college cheerleader looks like.. but, that’s another argument for another day. Now while I did do the rah-rah go-team-go type of cheerleading AKA: pop-warner, middle school and high-school cheerleading.. I also competed like in the video you watched above. If you didn’t watch it, or at least A PART of it, you won’t completely understand unless you are fluent in the all-star cheerleading world. And yes, it IS a whole different type of world filled with blood, sweat, tears, broken bones, huge bows, glitter, lots and lots of makeup and hairspray, late nights, 5AM practices and wakeups, lots and lots of traveling, 4 hour practices (even on weekends) and much, much more. In this very moment, I couldn’t even imagine not being apart of the countless hours of practicing, competing and traveling all those years. While I may not have realized it at the time, those coaches, the ones we may have been so angry at while they screamed and screamed because of each fuck-up we made during practice, are the very ones who taught us perseverance and strength and who taught us never to give up, and the meaning of teamwork. The very people who showed us unconditional love and dedication, and those very people helped shape us into the human beings we are now. Without them, we would’ve become a whole different kind of person.
I didn’t just come across such amazing coaches in cheerleading, but I also came across some wonderful coaches while playing volleyball, running track, and playing flag football. However, out of all the sports, cheerleading, without a doubt, took up the most of my time. Between going to practice right after school for school practice, then leaving there and eating something while heading to all-star cheer until 8-9pm at night, then heading home to do homework, get a shower and go to bed to do it all over again tomorrow. Practices even occurred on the weekends, 4 hours long. Now you would say that we didn’t have much of a life but in fact, our life was our gym, our teammates, the competitions, the hotels we stayed in when we traveled out of town to compete during the weekends, just wherever we were as long as our teammates, team moms and coaches were by our side – we were complete. Our friends WERE AT practice with us, their parents became our second parents/families, so we were as happy as could be until we didn’t stick a perfect routine and had to run it 50 times before we were allowed to go home….. No joke.
I am beyond thankful for how hard they made us practice, for how they made each obstacle seem like it may have been impossible but kept motivating and pushing us until we completed it to then give us another obstacle to tackle. Together, the coaches, our team, our parents, our siblings, other teams — we were a unit. A community. Together we were apart of something much bigger than ourselves and it really made us appreciate the little things in life. We thrive under pressure, we encourage the competition, we know what dedication looks like, we know what teamwork consists of, we won’t back down and we know that in order to achieve greatness, you must be willing to sacrifice things and we are 100% okay with that. My coaches were some of the most influential people in my life, people who tore us down to build us back up into an even better individual and an even better asset to our fellow teammates. They never gave up on us, they always had our backs, we always had each other’s back and because of that, we came out on top — stronger than ever. Every time. Win or lose.
So coaches, thank you so much for everything you’ve ever done for each one of us.
Thank you for putting up with our crap, pushing us harder each time, standing by us, supporting and cheering us on in the front of the mat while the bright lights revealed in a minute and thirty seconds — just how hard we’ve worked to complete a magnificent routine. And we owned it.
&& as for Adrian, one of the best tumblers, dancers & jumpers that I know. A coach and friend that we lost way too soon, thank you for constantly pushing us to be better. Thank you for screaming loudly, jumping up and down and cheering us on at the front of the mat each and every competition. Thank you for always being someone we could count on. We loved to make you proud. Thank you for being such an amazing human being and thank you for being the best coach possible. Rest in peace. We will never forget you.