Poetry on Odyssey: I Pray

Poetry On Odyssey: I Pray

Who is there when you most need it?

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I pray.

But I pray to what?

Day after day I hear "I pray", "I pray",

But I pray to who?


I want life.

I want joy.

I want pain to dissolve like sugar in a cup of coffee.

And I want Him to drink that cup of coffee,

And completely rid the pain that dissolved within it.


But who is He?

And what does He control?

How does He control?


It takes the right moment,

Or the right person,

To realize who He is in your life.


There is a reason you cannot see Him,

Or hear Him,

But He is always there.


You can feel it.

That feeling when you know you are all alone,

But do not feel alone.


When you most need it.

When you start to lose hope.

When you just want someone to listen.


He will be there.


There is no magic.

He can't change anything.


The miracle is you.


I pray for comfort.

I pray for my own strength.

I pray for cure.


He may listen,

But you are doing.


Praying is coping.

Praying is encouraging.

Praying is hopeful.


Everywhere I go,

Everything I do,

Someone is watching over me.


Together we are unstoppable.

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Why An Athlete Is Not Defined By Their Level

Pressure can drive athletes crazy.
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With tryout season among us, it is so important that this be addressed before the teams for this upcoming year are formed. So many athletes that tryout, don't make the team they want and either quit to "take a year off" or jump ship to a gym that promises them to place the athlete on a higher level. I know that every athlete wants to be on level 5 team, the division is the most prestigious of all of them, especially because going to worlds is the end game for most athletes. The problem these days in the cheerleading world, is that our athletes are trying to level up at a rate that is just not quite realistic. If an athlete is on a level 1 team the chances of her being on level 4 next year is slim. It is necessary for athletes to experience each level for at least a year to learn all of the fundamentals of the level and build on them for their foundation as an athlete to be more concrete. This produces the best athlete possible.

A lot of athletes think that all that they need to jump levels is tumbling and that is just not the case. When teams are formed, coaches take a look at many different things, these qualities include but are not limited to: mental toughness, dedication, tumbling, stunting abilities, pace of learning, dance and attitude. Contrary to popular belief, there are so many factors that go into forming a team. This team not only has to be suitable for individual athletes but putting a team together is like a puzzle and as coaches we have to put a team together that will work well and have all the necessary percentages of skills to be competitive in their division.

We are concerned about building well-rounded athletes, not an athlete that is only capable in one facet of cheerleading. Some athletes are great level 4 tumblers, but have level 2 stunt ability and those two will not equal a level 4 athlete until we boost the stunting ability of said athlete. Putting an athlete on a team to just tumble is doing a disservice to not just the team, but also the athletes themselves. If this athlete joins a level 4 team to just tumble all year, when their tumbling progresses to that of a level 5 athlete, they will still have level 2 stunting skills and won't be put to good use when they are level 5 eligible. A well-rounded athlete is the kind of athlete that wins worlds.

SEE ALSO: To The Coach That Took My Confidence Away

When athletes take their time and learn their level, they are not just learning completely new skills each year, but building on them. If done correctly, each year an athlete should improve on all points of cheerleading and not just one. The rules in each level lead to progressions for the level that it directly follows, so that athletes can safely learn skills by going up the ladder one step at a time. What most don't realize is that skipping steps is such an unnecessary practice. If Susie stays on level 2 for an extra year, she is not "learning nothing", she is improving on the skills that she didn't quite execute completely the year before, this will perfect her performance in this level and give a more solid foundation for her to build on when she is on a level 3 team.

Pressure can drive athletes crazy. Parents, your athletes have so many years ahead of them to be on a level 5 team and go to worlds, so pushing for a 10 year old, that is just not ready, to be on a level 4 team is unreasonable. Let your 10-year-old learn maturity and mental toughness at a level that is more appropriate, when your athlete is pushing herself too hard it takes the fun out of the tryout process and creates unnecessary stress on the athletes. Lastly, please be sure to support whatever decision your coaches make for your athlete's placement, they know your child and they are not trying to hurt their pride, but build them up so they can accomplish all of their goals as an athlete. Know that the level your kid makes this year doesn't define him or her as an athlete, but helps them grow into the cheerleader they have the ability to become!

Cover Image Credit: National Cheerleaders Association

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Poetry On Odyssey: Gardner

'I could smell her all over you / and once I even saw the juices / dripping from your lips"

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I knew it all along,

that the flowers in her garden

were laced with the sweetest nectar,

that flow from her hands to her hips.


The same scent that used to cling to you,

I could smell her all over you,

and once I even saw the juices

dripping from your lips.


But that garden has long since been set ablaze

Because things always get in the way.

And I guess that now you long to venture back,

to see if another seed has taken root.


And it's alright, I suppose,

My garden is far less vibrant.

It's been weeded too often, clipped too far

But hers is still so young, so fresh and full of life.


So you still water my plants,

and pretend to be in her field of flowers.

And you wonder to yourself,

because you don't know if you ever truly liked the taste

of bitter deceit swimming through your veins.

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