Cheerleading has a secret universe that only a few lucky people get a glimpse of. We even have our own set of "Cheerlebrities." Every cheerleader, whether they are in an All-Star program or they cheer for their high school or college knows the thrill of getting the competition schedule at the beginning of the season. I happen to be one of the lucky few that get to see all the crazy, amazing events that go down during the competition season. Here are the stages all cheerleaders go through the weekend of a competition.

1. Packing.


You never know what you’ll need and who will forget what, so packing can seem never ending. Will someone forget their socks? Double check. Triple check. Do you have your Under Armor? I know we wear red lipstick, but what if I need my neon green lipstick? Just bring it all to be safe.

2. Driving or flying.


Nineties throwbacks, country, or pop hits -- the fight for the aux cord is more intense than trying to get to the terminal on time. The trip to the competition is very sacred because you get to spend hours bonding with your teammates, not to mention pigging out on fast-food and candy. Plus, the music determines the mood of the entire car ride.

3. Staying in a hotel.


Four cheerleaders in one room with a pool open until midnight. What could go wrong? A better question is what could go right? Staying up late having pillow talks, watching movies and having crazy dance parties, that’s one recipe for exhausted cheerleaders in the morning.

4. Getting ready for the competition.


Hair higher than you ever knew possible, and make-up more intense than you would ever think to wear. Everyone needs to look in uniform and put together, and you can be sure that if you don’t look right someone on your team will be ready and willing to fix it. That’s why you’re a team.

5. Checking into the competition.


Nothing beats that sweet smell of hairspray, totally bad for you concession stands, and Icy Hot sprayed up and down each athlete's body. Seeing all the teammates teasing each other's hair, dancing in a huddle, and meeting up with friends from other teams; the cheer world is a strongly intertwined community.

6. Watching other teams compete.


Although any cheerleader can tell you that it’s bad luck to watch your competitors perform, they will most likely tell you they do it, anyways. Whether you’re watching to see your friends compete or to see if your rivals will fall, watching a team perform will always pump you up.

7. Warm-ups.


Five minutes on each mat, five minutes to make sure your stunt is solid, five minutes to pump yourself up for tumbling; that's all you get. Fifteen minutes, total, to prove to yourself and your team that you won't let anyone down during the performance.

8. Performing.


Two minutes and 30 seconds to show the judges and everyone in the crowd that you have what it takes to win first place. All the late night practices and early weekends spent in the gym are for the short amount of time you have on the mat. It's your time to shine. Lock those legs, point those toes, and fight for first place.

9. Dancing before awards.


All the teams are on the mat getting ready to see who placed and who didn't make the cut, but not before a giant dance party. From Cupid's Shuffle to the Wobble, dancing in giant circles with the other teams unites us all. We are one big cheer family. Yet, we know that when the music stops, fierce competitors come out.

10. Awards.


Holding hands sitting in a circle with your team, all simultaneously praying that your team's name is announced for first place, is an indescribable feeling. With your heads all down squeezing each other so tight your hands go numb, your team is one. You're with your sisters and brothers. Your team is a family.

11. Post-competition crash.


Adrenaline running through your body for seven hours straight at a competition can take a lot out of even the best cheerleaders. While walking out of the competition, your carpool is already figuring out who gets to lay on who to sleep on the ride home (sorry drivers, you don't get a break until you're home). The weekend is over and now you can relax -- well, until the next competition.

Once you start cheering, it's almost impossible to stop. We love what we do. It takes a lot out of us, but that will never stop us from doing it all again the following weekend.