For 13 years of my life, I was a competitive cheerleader. I lived and breathed all things cheer from practices 2-4 times a week each for up to four hours to weekends full of away competitions, the cheer was my whole existence. When I was younger I always pictured myself cheering in college and that is when I fell in love with The University of Kentucky cheer team. I remember being in 5th grade watching the U.K. basketball games waiting to catch a glimpse of the cheerleaders on the sidelines. I was a U.K. cheer fan from day one and it helped that they were a dynasty winning numerous championship titles for years. I loved U.K. cheer so much so when a girl on my team's sister made the team and cheered for U.K. I knew Kentucky is where I wanted to go to school. Well as I got older I discovered cheering in college would be a lot harder than I initially dreamed of.
Kentucky cheer is truly the best of the best and in order to make the team, I would have been needing to go to camps, and also I was not a flyer and did not have the tumbling skills needed to make such a prestigious team. However, despite this fact, I still chose to attend the University of Kentucky for college. Over my last three years, I have continued to sit back and watch in amazement the talent that is The University of Kentucky cheer team. Even though I may not have been good enough to try out for this team I still have continued to look up to the athletes on the team. These athletes will always be individuals who are so physically in shape attending numerous practices a week while still maintaining good grades and attending some of the same college classes I was, sometimes even doing better in class than I ever could. These athletes have always been sort of celebrity like to me because of how talented they are in my eyes. I still sit and watch what they do at football games in the freezing cold and shake my head in utter amazement. So, when I got the email of The University of Kentucky firing all four U.K. cheer coaches after allegations of hazing, alcohol, and nudity I was so shocked. These are athletes I had watched and stalked on Instagram for years being accused of these allegations as well as these coaches I grew up knowing in the cheer circuit. There has been a lot of truths and lies being passed around on social media and me being an ex-cheerleader I have been glued to my phone waiting to hear from cheerleaders at U.K. as well as alumni of the cheer team and even outsider cheerleaders.
It has been hard for me to believe that these athletes I looked up to my whole life could even do what they all have been accused of. I also cannot believe that the coaches who I have also known in the cheer world could be responsible for part of these allegations. I sympathize with the athletes and alumni as I cannot imagine having all of these allegations come out at a time when you wish so badly to be near teammates and you cannot be. I also feel for the athletes who lost coaches who were family to them. Coaches in cheer become like mom and dads to each of us so having that taken away can be very difficult to process especially when it is someone you have always looked up to. The next few weeks for The University of Kentucky cheer team and the cheer world will be interesting to see what new information comes out. The truths and lies will hopefully be addressed so the athletes can finally have a sense of their new normal without potentially teammates and coaches. I will continue to look up to these athletes until I can be presented with a reason not to. These athletes have always been a positive face on campus for me and I hope I continue to see their reputation withstands the next few weeks.