To, My Team:

To, My Team:

A letter to the people who hold me up
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To My Team:

To those of you who I don’t talk to every day, and to those of you who I spend most nights with, in Blanch laughing about something that we won’t remember tomorrow. I am writing to you because you’ve been on my mind. I want to write to you to say thank you. I want to write to those of you who spend your Sundays in the lab and those of you who don’t know where “The Lab” even is. To those of you who I know your middle names and to those of you who did winter training on your own because the times didn’t line up for your schedule. To those of you who had never seen snow before, and to those of you who have never been to the West Coast. This is to those of you who know exactly how you are going to make a difference in the world, this is to those of you who forgot to go to class this morning, and this is to those of you who wake up every day with a new passion and a new interest.

I want to say thank you. I want to say thank you for being my family away from home. Thank you for turning my music up when I am in the middle of a piece, thank you for turning my music down when it sounds like it is about to break the speakers. Thank you for waving to me on your way to your 10am class, and for letting me sit beside you in an auditorium full of people I don’t know. Thank you for pulling up an extra chair when there seems to be nowhere else to sit, thank you for picking up my fork when I drop it on the ground and the broken part of my mug when I drop my dishes on the floor. Thank you for smiling in this sea of students, thank you for standing and talking to me when I was by myself. Thank you for being a familiar face, no matter if it is in the library, in the classroom, or in the erg room. Thank you for listening to my stories and telling me yours, thank you for asking if I’m okay on days that I am not. Thank you for also hating 5am just as much as I do every day and thank you for still getting out of bed and rowing with me. Thank you for sharing the pain, and the ache in our legs from day to day to day to day. Today, we will be better then we were before. Thank you for sharing in our triumphs, the moments that make the pain worth it.

There is no other group of individuals who I would rather stand in a uni with on an overcast day in October. Please never change the way that you smile when the wind breaks and we get to go out on the water, or the way that you high-five your teammates after a hard piece. Hold onto yourself and the people in the seat in front and in back of you because they’ve got you. They’ve got you on their minds in the third five hundred, and they are the ones who turn to you and smile when you get to watch the sunrise over the Connecticut River every morning together. Shout their name in the gym when they lift more then you and acknowledge them even when they just show up. They are there for you just like you are there for them. They might not know it right now but someday they will. Someday they will be in the last two-fifty of a race and they will realize why they do this. All of this. It’s for you.

Love,

Your Team

Cover Image Credit: Mira Rosenkotz

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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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