I have been a cheerleader since I was 5. I am now 21 years old and can say that I have successfully been flipping my body around for 17 years. It is finally time, after those many years, to hang up the towel and move on to newer things, but I do not want to do so without reflecting on my last year with my last team. Each year at TCNJ was a great year, filled with lots of friendships and laughter, but nothing will compare with this last year. I am dedicating this article to my last team, my second family, my heart.
This season was an incredible road from start to finish, full of twists and turns. It was the first time in a long time that so many new people came in with such enthusiasm and love for the sport. That was surprising but definitely heartwarming. I began to really look forward to camp to see what this team could do and show off in front of other teams, and boy did we show off. We swept our division and got first in everything. Not only did we do well based on the results, but we had fun bonding. Never had I ever had so much fun at a camp. It was truly incredible to leave camp on such a high note, which was a great way to start the season.
When we got back to TCNJ, there was never a dull moment. We continued to bring the fun and energy to our practices, to our games, and to our community service events. These girls, my teammates, made cheering the greatest thing in my life, and for that, I am forever grateful. This past summer and semester, they gave me something to look forward to and be excited about, at a time when I was struggling. Coming back from studying abroad can be some of the lowest moments of a person's life, but I was lucky; I had my team to lift up my spirits. Every time I was sad this past semester, I would go to cheer and be instantly in a better mood. My second family always knows how to bring smiles to people's faces.
These girls have some of the craziest antics that I have ever seen. Sometimes, I would forget that we are all in college. It does not matter though because I love the antics, whether it is goofing around and talking to Marissa's vlog, making obstacle courses, or even making fun of my pupils or strange faces. I enjoy all of it, but of course my favorite would have to be "Pump Up the Jam," hence the title of this article. Around Christmas time, Jamie came to practice with a little extra energy. She started running around in a circle singing this song. Our wonderful coaches decided to indulge her and put the song on. Ever since, we have started all of our practices with "Pump Up the Jam" and done fun dance moves to go along with it. To be honest, I cannot even imagine anything more joyful than starting my days that way every day, and I would like to thank Jamie ten times over for coming up with the great idea.
We eventually headed down to Disney, and the enthusiasm just continued to increase. I had a great time with my team the entire time, even with barely any sleep (and the sleep I did manage to get was in a bathtub). We had fun at our meals, bonding with our hibachi chef and Mickey and Stitch. Even with all the fun we had, cheer never took a backseat. We knew what our mission was and had our eyes set on the prize. We had some of our best practices down in Florida, and on Saturday, we put our hearts on that mat. It might not have been what we had wanted to happen, but everyone saw our spirit, which was so strong. I have never felt that kind of energy on a mat before. I left that mat with no regrets because I was out there with my team that I love so much. I am proud of what we did because it reflected the enthusiasm and love we have had for each other from day one. What more could I ask for in my last year? To have that feeling on the mat after 17 years means everything.
So, I just want to thank all of you - my twenty teammates and my three coaches. Thank you for the best last season ever. Thank you for your joy and spirit. Thank you for your determination. Thank you for never giving up on each other during the hard times. Coaches, thank you for always pushing us to be our best, for always believing in us, and for catching us when we felt like we were falling. Thank you all for your friendship, laughter, and love. Thank you for being my family. I love you all very much, and I will miss each and everyone of you dearly. Bring it home next year. I believe in you; shoot for redemption.