For all my cheerleaders out there, this is for you. I'm sure you feel the same about our sport.

Thank you cheer for all the lessons you have taught me. I am old and "retired" now, but I love looking on my newsfeeds and seeing old teammates or teams excel. Cheer was such a huge part of my life and I just want to say thank you for everything you taught me on and off the mat.

Cheerleading taught me sportsmanship. There's nothing quite like cheer where half your sport is literally cheering on other teams. You learn about every other team at the school, know their star players and their best games. If you're at an all-star gym, you know every other team there, too, and love watching them succeed at practices. You truly are invested in your school or gym pride because your job as a cheerleader goes beyond what your coach tells you to do.

Cheerleading taught me trust. Have you ever trusted someone to chuck you in the air and then catch you? Cheerleading is a crazy trust exercise where we toss around people for fun and for competition. The trust comes in for not only flyers or top girls (the girls on top of the pyramid) but for the bases and backspots too.

If you're a backspot you may have the most trust in your stunt group trusting, err-hoping that your flyer doesn't nail you in the face with an elbow. Those flyer elbows are bony. (Sorry Carson and Britt H.)

Cheerleading has taught me strength. Although we smile and run around the mat like we're not tired, we're exhausted and are just trying to get to the end of the routine - zero deductions. It's a straight cardio sprint for 2 minutes and 30 seconds... but in those minutes, you sprint, you do a few lifts, and tumble into the air for a bit and jump as high as you can until your toes are above your waist.

Not to mention if you're game day style you also cheer at the top of your lungs to an entire arena at 99% random strangers asking them to yell colors back at you making you completely out of breath before you can even start. No mouthing the words either, it's all yall.

Overall cheerleading has taught me love. I love cheerleading. I love every practice, every failure, every success, every teammate I've ever met. It's a family love and I will always be grateful to have had this experience. Looking back at choreography days, sweaty summer camps, or even crazy kiddy camps I would 100% do them 100X over.

If you are thinking about cheerleading - do it. If you're a cheerleader now, take it in. If you're a "retiree" like me - isn't it amazing?