By Katlyn LaPorte
The definition of cheerleading in the dictionary is “to lead organized cheering, as at sports events.” In my opinion this definition is in need of some revising. Cheerleading is not only a sport to me, but my lifestyle.
Starting on the first day of summer vacation, every single weekday of June, July, and August I attend 6 a.m. morning practice. When school begins, I go to practice every single day after school. A common question I get asked is, “Why do you practice every single day, all you do are cheers.” This is one of the most common misconceptions of cheerleading.
The hardest, yet most rewarding part of cheerleading is stunting. A stunt group is formed by four main components: a flyer-the athlete who is lifted into stunts and pyramids and thrown into basket tosses, two bases-the athletes who lift and hold the flyers in the air, and a back-spot-the leader of each group who gives power and security by holding the flyer’s ankles.
Stunting is something that can be worked day in and day out but can never be completely mastered. This is the sole reason why it is so vital that we practice every single day.
Just like any other sport, cheerleaders compete in competitions. At our high school we compete in two; regionals, and state. Each year we hire a professional choreographer to come and teach us the routine we will be performing for our competitions. We learn this routine starting in July, and we practice every single weekday up until competition time in November and December.
Competitions are the best part of cheer. The nerves literally eat up any cheerleader’s insides before they step out on that mat, but from personal experience I know that once that two minute thirty second routine is over, there is no greater feeling in the world than knowing you gave it everything you had and left your whole heart out there on the mat, no matter the outcome.
Practicing for months and months all leads up to those two and a half minutes that determine the team’s fate. For those two and a half minutes, each and every cheerleader on the team has to go out on that mat, give it their all, hit every stunt solid, and even then the team’s fate is unpredictable, and in the hands of the judges.
Unlike most other sports, we don’t get four quarters, nine innings, three sets, etc. to come back in a game. We get those two and a half minutes to show what we’ve been working on for months. The pressure is undeniable.
I can say from experience that there is no better feeling than winning a competition, going to finals, or hitting every stunt in a routine, but the overall best feeling is knowing that your cheer team is not just your team but your family.
For the rest of my life I will remember the lessons cheerleading has taught me, such as trust, patience, dedication, teamwork and time management. Most importantly, I will never forget all the incredible bonds I have made with my teammates and my coach. They are more than my team but my family.
Now here is my revised definition of cheerleading: “an intense physical sport that takes energy, time, determination, talent, and heart.”