How I Transition From Individual Figure To Synchronized Skating

My Transition From Individual To Synchronized Skating Was Easier Said Than Done

The most humbling experience of my life.

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From the moment I arrived outside Dodds Hall on July 28th, I was instantly hit with the unfamiliar from all angles. The first floor of the dorm was packed with potential members of the Miami Varsity Synchronized Skating Team. But none of us were official members yet. That's what this week would determine.

The first thing I remember thinking is how uncomfortably out of place I felt. A feeling I had never truly experienced in my life. Out of place in the humid Oxford air, in the hallway filled with girls I had never met who all seemed to know each other, and most of all, out of place trying to understand this new form of a sport I once thought I knew everything about.

I had grown up my whole life as a competitive figure skater. It was the one thing I always knew, the one thing that essentially made me, me. I was extremely successful for the majority of my teen years and continued to excel in the sport at a more rapid pace than anyone expected. But towards the end, a series of severe injuries came between me and my dreams. It eventually became physically impossible for me to continue skating at the level I was at. After a lot of consideration, I decided I couldn't bear quitting skating altogether. I had to find another way.

That was how I ended up here, at Miami University, trying out for the best synchronized skating team in the country. The only issue was that I had never tried synchronized skating in my life.

I thought to myself, how different could it be?

The answer is: very.

From the first day I stepped on the ice for tryouts, I was being peered at by judgemental eyes who could tell I had no clue what I was doing. I had never felt so foreign in a place where I was supposed to feel so comfortable. Skating was the one thing I could always rely on. The one thing I always knew I could do as well as anyone else. But suddenly, that truth disappeared into thin air.

I felt as though I was invading these girls' territory. They had grown up around synchronized skating their whole lives and had dreamt of being on this team since they were kids, and there I was, throwing myself blind into these tryouts on a complete whim. I couldn't blame them for being skeptical.

Needless to say, that week was easily the most humbling week of my life. I had to suck in all my pride and courage and admit to myself that I didn't know what I was doing. I had to form a new level of respect for this parallel form of skating that I had once deemed as "easy" and realize it is more challenging than I could have ever thought. I had to ask people for help, something that was never my strong suit. But hardest of all, I had to basically start from scratch with a sport I had just spent 18 years mastering. Humbling myself in such a way is one of the greatest lessons I've ever had to learn, and I now know that I was always meant to show up outside of Dodds 116 that day, scared and unsure and alone. I was always meant to take a deep wavering breath and step directly into the unknown. I am better because of it. And I know that I always will be.

I am thankful for that difficult, terrifying, emotional, and lonely week, one of the hardest I've ever endured in my life. And I'm even more thankful that I've found a new dream, a new passion to chase after with everything I've got. I could have never guessed I'd end up here. But I suppose our greatest adventures always are the ones we never expect.

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Trust Me, You're Going To Miss It

Yeah, cheerleading is its own kind of Hell, but don't take it for granted.
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Last week, I spent close to three hours watching videos from the recent Cheersport Nationals, a huge cheerleading competition held in Atlanta, GA.

As an ex-cheerleader, one that cheered for close to 11 years, I felt the familiar ache in my stomach watching all the teams I had grown up watching and idolizing take the stage I had taken so many times in Atlanta. As I watched the excitement of the crowd and felt the adrenaline through the computer screen, I realized something that I hadn't thought about in years: I would never have that feeling again.

And while I gave up cheerleading willingly, and pretty happily, I hardly ever thought about all the old memories and feelings I associated with the big bows, tight uniforms and copious amounts of glitter. But now, for the first time in years, I felt sad to not be up on the stage with all of the other athletes, doing something that had driven me absolutely insane at times but that had also been such a huge part in my life.

Take it from me, an old washed up cheerleader, that would probably break half the bones in my body if I even attempted a front walkover, you will miss cheerleading. It doesn't matter if you're an all-star that grew up in a gym, or a high-schooler that fell in love with the sport while on the sidelines, a part of you will always wish you could walk back onto that stage and compete just one more time.

I and every other retired cheerleader will attest to it: You're going to miss it.

You're going to miss the love/hate relationship you have with your coaches after they've been screaming at you for the better part of two hours.

You're going to miss the bond you have with your teammates, some that you won't see again after that last competition.

You're going to miss the ache in your feet associated with convention centers, and all the naps you took on their hard, concrete floors.

You're going to miss the headache from your ponytail, and having everything you own be covered in glitter for months at a time.

You're going to miss that feeling you get in the split second between "It's on," and when the music and that first 8-count starts. The feeling that makes you feel as though you're going to throw up, not be able to move, and forget your entire routine all at once.

But most of all, you're going to miss the feeling after you hit the routine you and your team have been practicing for months and the adrenaline high that comes with it. The feeling of being on top of the world, that's a drug in itself.

SEE ALSO: 20 Signs You Were A High School Cheerleader

So, while you have it, enjoy it. Because there are hundreds of ex-athletes that would absolutely kill to experience just one of those feelings again, and you get to have all of them.

Cover Image Credit: swishaaasweets.tumblr

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It's Been A Year And I Still Miss It

The memories with my teammates and coaches are remembered everyday.

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Never thought I'd say it but here I am. I am happy to say I am proud to be where I am today but the thoughts of never playing a sport again linger in my mind. Those emotions of anticipation and excitement when it comes to playing a sport are long gone. Sad to say I will never have butterflies before running a race, floor burns all over my knees and sweat mixed with softball dirt all over me.

The little aspects that I took for granted are what I remember the most. I am who I am today because of my coaches and teammates. Each and every sport came with a support system to fall back on and friendships that would last a lifetime. My coaches and teammates taught me life long skills that I will carry with me forever. They taught me the true meaning of dedication, teamwork, perseverance and respect. Yes, I love the game but the connections and memories I have built have impacted me. Especially, the times I have created with my teammates and coaches on the bus rides, practices and game days.

Those are the moments I will never get back. I will never forget the times my volleyball teammates and I would run over to Perkins after a win. We would eat junkie, greasy food till our tummies were full but during those moments we were all owning the moment while being young and careless. Even during track season my teammates and I found time to have fun while running rigorous workouts. I will never forget the mid-dance parties during track meets to keep our mind off of the stress of performing to our best ability. Softball season always seemed to be on the road, which meant plenty of bus rides with my teammates. Those hours of traveling were the best from the never have I ever games to singing along to great hits.

I will never get the chance again to compete in front of a crowd. The cheers and the roars of the fans is such a surreal feeling. Running on the blue oval was something I will never forget. As much as I hated the queasy, uneasy feelings before running, I would go back for it one more time. Stepping foot on the blue oval meant a great athlete once took those same steps I did. The moment my teammates, coaches and I clinched the win to go to State for the first time in school history was unbelievable. It was an accomplishment for us seniors, for our coaches, for our families and fans, for our school and for the past softball players. We did something that was never done before in school history and all I can say is I'm proud to have done it with the group of girls that I did.

Getting to state and playing with the best of the best is remarkable but what seemed to be even better was getting a victory against a city rival. Everyone came out for those games from grandparents to students to alumni. Our best performances were amongst us when competing against city rivals. Particularly, through volleyball, my teammates and I seemed to be hungrier for a win whenever it was a city rival. I guess, the best moments happened when we beat a cross-town rival. You could say we got bragging rights for the year.

To all the athletes out there competing in their last game, last match or last race, relish in those last seconds because before you know it you will never pick up a ball again, race in a relay or dance after a victory.

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