Although it doesn't feel like it, I graduated high school almost two years ago. I absolutely loved everything about my high school experience: clubs and organizations, leadership roles, my friends, my class (#ForeverL17), my teachers, and being a cheerleader.
I'll be the first to admit it: I missed high school so much my first semester of college. I missed the comfort and familiarity it brought me. I missed having a solid group of friends I could make plans with all the time. I missed being at home with my family. And of course, I missed cheer. I started cheering when I was in 7th grade, so it was definitely an adjustment to stop doing something I had been doing for the last six years.
At first, the missing cheer was more of a nostalgia thing than truly missing the sport itself. So many friendships and memories came from being on the cheer team, so I think I was trying to cling to those rather than missing being on the sidelines to cheer on the football or basketball team.
Despite my efforts to stay in touch with teammates and go back home to support the team as an alum, I soon realized that the chapter had really been closed and it was time to declare it all memories. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy going back to watch the cheer team on the sidelines to cheer on the football and basketball teams or on the mat as they show off their skills in their competition routine, but my motive in doing that has changed. I just enjoy watching the games and supporting them from the stands.
Now that I'm two years post-graduation, aka two years post-cheerleader, I really do miss the sport itself.
I miss being on the sidelines. I love going to college sporting events, but it's really different being in the stands instead of down where all the action is happening.
I miss being a part of creating the fan experience. I loved making game plans and routines that involved the crowd. Now I'm on the receiving end of things.
I miss performing. After all the time and hard work we put into a routine, there was no better feeling than hitting it perfectly in front of the crowd at a game or competition. It made all the blood, sweat, and tears far beyond worth it.
I miss learning new skills. A close second to that feeling of hitting a perfect routine was perfecting a new stunt sequence with your stunt group or conquering a mental block with a new tumbling pass.
I even find myself actually missing the things I never thought I would.
I miss the early morning practices. They taught me self-discipline to actually get up and go after the things I wanted.
I miss the workouts. They kept me in shape. Now, I'm a full-time college student who never has time to workout anymore.
I miss the bus rides to away games and competitions. They forced me to take a break from my studies and spend time with friends.
I miss being told "one more full out" at the end of practice. Pushing through the pure exhaustion and being ready to go home taught me how to keep giving it my all no matter what was thrown at me.
With all of the friendships, memories, and life lessons cheer brought into my life, I know that my time with cheer is up. But what I'd give to put on that uniform to cheer on the sidelines one more time... do one more stunt sequence... one more tumbling pass... one last routine...