Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Why Cheerleading?

Over the years I was in high school, many people asked me, a (in the beginning) quiet girl who cared more for academics than athletics, why I would devote so much of my time to cheerleading. And it is true, I spent a lot of time doing cheer. My junior and senior years of high school I was spending over 20 hours a week doing cheer related activities. As a participant on two squads and a die-hard fan of the sport overall, cheer quickly consumed my life. But I have never regretted spending all that time doing something I love for even a second.

OJHS Wrestling Cheerleading
I began cheerleading as an 8th grader doing wrestling cheerleading for Oroville Middle School. I had never been on a team before. I was quiet, awkward, and didn't know anything about wrestling. We quickly had to learn. And along with all the rhythms and cheers, we soon knew all the rules and the ins and outs of the sport. I fell in love with cheerleading and I did it fast. Being a part of the cheer squad gave me friends that no other group activity would. Not only was I friends with the other cheerleaders, but with the boys on the wrestling team as well. And the lessons I learned from cheer are lessons that have carried with me to this day.

You also learn to never stop smiling.
As a cheerleader the quote "fall seven times, stand up eight" is a literal reality every day. Except usually you're falling from 5-10 feet off the ground and you may or may not have been thrown, and
someone may or may not be there to break your fall. If the people on the ground are doing their jobs, someone is there, and they are going to break themselves before they break you. You can't teach co-dependence like that just anywhere. Teamwork, trust, perseverance, you learn that just in the first day you learn to do a prep.

You learn to love people that you never dreamed of loving because they become your family, your sisters, your brothers, the people who occasionally punch you in the nose doing a basket, or the ones who (tee hee) fart in your face while you're backspotting them. It happens. We all know. You share secrets, jokes, tears, sometimes blood, bruise stories, memories, and experiences that no one else has and you learn to support these people, trust in these people, to work with these people and help them out, no matter what, on the mat or off. It's a transformative experience for many young girls and boys.

And just like many other extracurriculars, cheerleading helps people find their voice. Literally and
Oroville High School Football Cheer
figuratively. As an assistant coach, the other coaches and I pride ourselves on the fact that we teach our girls attitude, we teach them sass, we teach them that they are the top dog just because they are themselves and we love them for it. We let them be who they are and help them to excel in ways they never dreamed imaginable just because we believe in them. As a result, we see these young girls and boys who sometimes come to us very shy and very reserved, turn into outspoken confident young men and women who are having the time of their lives. By doing something that teaches you to love yourself, confidence is usually achieved.

2Hott Elite All Star Cheer
Cheerleading puts out, dedicated, driven, and goal-oriented human beings. Every practice, every game, every competition these girls and boys walk in thinking about something they need to achieve for the day. Whether it's "today is the day we learn a full down" or "tonight we need to out cheer our rival school because it's the bell game" or "today we need to hit all seven of our stunts to place first"
they always have something in mind, that together with their coaches, they are setting out to achieve. And this all starts at a young age for a lot of athletes in cheer. So by the time they have aged out of competitive cheer, they have learned to seek a new challenge every day, to not be satisfied with the progression of yesterday, because even though that was good, there is more to be done. These are the type of people we want in the work force, these are the types of adults who get things done in the world. Who make laws, who pass bills, who teach your future children, who just get out there and get stuff done, because they learned these super important lessons as a high school athlete.

The lessons I learned as a cheerleader have stayed with me as an adult - especially because I now
Omak High School Football Cheer
coach a group of wonderful girls who I get to help teach these lessons to. But if you're ever asking yourself if you should be a cheerleader, look past all that negative hype that we work to erase. Know that if you become a cheerleader, you're going to gain a family. You're going to learn skills that will help you for the rest of your life, and you're going to love every second of it. If something is in your heart, just do it. We can't wait to see you.

CTL Tidal Waves 2016

This post is dedicated to all of my cheer squads and coaches, past, present and future. You all continue to shape my life into something wonderful and I love you so much. See you on the mat. 

Pictured: The squads I currently coach. AKA my heart and soul.
Omak High School Football Cheer 2015


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