Thank You Cheerleading

Thank You Cheerleading

A thank you to the countless hours I spent on the mat.
Cat D
Cat D
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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?

Cover Image Credit: TriStar CVHS

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn't sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It's obvious your calling wasn't coaching and you weren't meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn't have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn't your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that's how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “It's not what you say, its how you say it."

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won't even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don't hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That's the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she's the reason I continued to play."

I don't blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn't working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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I Wouldn't Trade My DII Experience To Play DI Athletics Any Day

I'm thankful that I didn't go DI because I wouldn't have had the best four-year experience as a college athlete.

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As a high school athlete, the only goal is to play your varsity sport at the Division 1 level in college.

No one in high school talks about going to a Division 2 or 3 school, it's as if the only chance you have at playing college athletics is at the DI level. However, there are so many amazing opportunities to play a varsity sport at the DII and DIII level that are equally fun and competitive as playing for a division 1 team.

As a college athlete at the DII level, I hear so many DI athletes wishing they had played at the DII or DIII level. Because the fact of the matter is this: the division you play in really doesn't matter.

The problem is that DII and DIII sports aren't as celebrated as Division 1 athletics. You don't see the National Championships of Division 2 and 3 teams being broadcasted or followed by the entire country. It's sad because the highest levels of competition at the DII and DIII level are competing against some of the Division 1 teams widely celebrated across the country. Yet DII and DIII teams don't receive the recognition that DI athletics do.

Not everyone can be a DI athlete but that doesn't mean it's easy to be a DII or DIII athlete. The competition is just as tough as it is at the top for DII and DIII athletes. Maybe the stakes are higher for these athletes because they have to prove they are just as good as DI athletes. Division 2 and 3 athletes have just as much grit and determination as Division 1 athletes, without the glorified title of being "a division 1 athlete."

Also, playing at the DII or DIII level grants more opportunities to make your college experience your own, not your coach's.

I have heard countless horror stories in athletics over the course of my four-year journey however, the most heartbreaking come from athletes who lose their drive to compete because of the increased pressure from coaches or program. Division 1 athletics are historically tougher programs than Division 2 or 3 programs, making an athlete's college experience from one division to another significantly different.

The best part of not going to a division 1 school is knowing that even though my team doesn't have "DI" attached to it, we still have the opportunity to do something unique every time we arrive at an event. Just because we aren't "DI" athletes, we still have the drive and competitive spirit to go to an event and win. We are great players, and we have broken countless records as a team.

That's something we all have done together, and it's something we can take with us for the rest of our lives.

We each have our own mission when it comes to our college athletic careers, however together we prove to be resilient in the fight for the title. Giving it all when we practice and play is important, but the memories we have made behind the scenes as a team makes it all worth it, too.

The best part of being apart of college athletics is being able to be passionate about your sport with teammates that embody that same mindset. It's an added benefit to having teammates who become your best friends because it makes your victories even more victorious, and your defeats easier to bare.

No matter what level an athlete is playing at in college, it's important that all the hours spent at practice and on the road should be enjoyed with teammates that make the ride worthwhile. The experiences athletes have at any level are going to vary, but the teammates I have and the success we've had together is something I cherish and will take with me forever. I'm thankful that I didn't go DI because I wouldn't have had the best four-year experience as a college athlete.

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