Why Every Girl Should Be A Cheerleader
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Why Every Girl Should Be A Cheerleader

And maybe even every boy

Why Every Girl Should Be A Cheerleader
Zoey Zogby

From kindergarten up until the eighth grade, I was convinced that I was never going to be the type of girl who wore an over-sized hair bow and a short skirt, waving a set of pom-poms from the sidelines while I cheered on my high school football team. Movies like "Bring it On" or "Sugar and Spice," or TV shows like "Hellcats" were humorous to me. Who took cheerleading that seriously? I definitely didn't see it as a sport and the entire concept seemed ridiculous to me. My sister had been a cheerleader, so it wasn't like I knew nothing about it or thought it was the easiest thing, but I definitely didn't think that it was hard.

Freshman year, I tried out for the varsity team on a whim with my best friend and made the team. After that, my perception of it changed. It's most definitely a sport. My biggest regret is that I didn't start cheering at a younger age because being a part of the team counts as one of my favorite high school memories. The lessons I learned there couldn't have been taught anywhere else.

1. The Trust Of Your Team

You're either throwing a girl approximately five to 10 feet in the air, depending on the stunt you're doing, or you're the girl that's been thrown through the air. You need to be able to trust one another if you're going to do something like that. If there's no trust, then the stunt isn't going to work and somebody's going to get hurt. So, you learn how to put some faith into other people and you trust them with your life (in the literal and figurative sense of the phrase). It doesn't matter if you guys are close friends outside of the gym. You know things about them that you never thought you would find out about people outside your immediate circle of friends. After countless team dinners, sleepovers, endless practices and fundraisers as well as games to competitions and away games, you have a bond with these girls that will never be broken.

2. Your New Family

The trust ends up leading to something stronger than a friendship. You're going to be like a family with these girls. Being a part of the cheerleading team meant that I got roughly twenty new sisters (of course, it was far more than that, with seniors constantly graduating and new freshmen joining the team). I had older sisters and younger sisters, all of whom I knew would be there for me at the drop of a hat.

The cheer-moms were the moms of the entire team. One mom would invite us all over for a massive team sleepover before the first game every year. One mom would host team dinners every year, feeding 20-23 girls every Friday night. We never had a shortage of pictures of us in action because our moms typically sat in the stands together, comparing pictures and we had group messages active throughout the season to pass around the shots we thought looked the best.

3. The Coach Who Is So Much More Than A Coach

OK, so I never had a coach like Coach Sylvester. If I did, then I probably would have hated high school cheerleading and would have never gone back after the first day of try-outs freshman year. What I did have was a coach who wasn't afraid to join a stunt group to figure out why a stunt wasn't working. I had a coach who talked to us like people and took our opinions into consideration.

A good coach is going to teach you so much more than how to jump, stunt and tumble. They're going to teach you lessons that are relevant to your life outside of the gym. She'll teach you about respect and patience. About failure and success. About hard work and passion. Winning is not everything, and a good coach is going to make you feel like you walked out of a competition with a first place trophy no matter what place you came in or how the performance went.

4. The Pride

As Rachel Berry once said about a totally unrelated subject, "Being a part of something special makes you special, right?" And, when you're a cheerleader, you are definitely a part of something special. When you're finish performing your routine in front of a crowd for the first time, there is no greater feeling, especially when everything hits perfectly. You feel like you're a part of the football world at your school, so every victory for them feels like a minor victory for you. When you tell people that you're a cheerleader, there's a sort of respect that people tend to have for you, regardless of whether or not they have actually seen you or your team in action. And there is no better feeling then when the football team comes in and tries to do what you have mastered and fails. Because the respect they have for you afterwards makes all the haters seem even more irrelevant than they really are.

5. The Feeling Of Unity

Whether or not you're actually a part of the group or not, you're always going to look and feel like you belong. You spend so much time with these girls and you learn so much about them that you become sort of synchronized with them. Most of the time, you're acting as one single unit. Besides that, when you walk into school on Friday dressed in matching uniforms with your hair the same way and oversized hair bows that drive your classmates crazy, you feel bonded to the people dressed like you. You know that you're never truly alone, because at the end of the day, you have a team of 20 (+) girls who are going through nearly identical things to what you're going through. There is never a time where you truly feel like you're on the outside, because you know that you're a part of something that's so much bigger than just an individual.

6. Realizing You Won't Always Have the Spotlight

Not every girl is going to be able to be a flyer. And if you aren't a flyer, chances are, you're not going to be noticed in most pictures. Because, no matter how good you are at anything else, formations are made up based off of the easiest transitions. And most of the time, what makes the most sense, is for the flyer to be at the front of the line-up. So, that's where they go. It's a tough lesson, realizing that you can work your butt off and still be put in the back, but you get over it. Because, the truth is, it's not about you. That's why you don't have a number or a name on the back of your uniform. All you have is the name on the front. The same name every girl on the team has. Because you're a part of a team. The team is all that matters, because every single person is an important part of it and it wouldn't be the same if even one of those people left.

7. You Learn How to Go With The Flow

Mistakes happen, no matter how hard you practice. And they always happen at the worst times. So, you have to learn how to fake it until you make it. If you smile through anything that goes wrong, you can usually cover it up. And you learn how to save face a lot when you're a cheerleader. A stunt falls? You learn what you need to do to keep the flyer in the air and resume the rest of the sequence before your flyer totally collapses. You mess up a tumbling sequence? Drop to one knee and bend the other one, hitting a high-V so it looks like it was on purpose. Mess up a move? Just keep on going, fixing yourself as soon as possible. There is no failure when you're a cheerleader because you don't get four quarters to redeem yourself. There is no over time. You get two and a half minutes, and that's it. Just one shot.

8. Flexibility Means More Than Being Bendable

It's not just about the perfect needle or pulling a scorpion while you're up in a full lib. It's about being versatile. You have to be willing to go up in the air as a flyer or stand on the ground as base. You have to be willing to take kicks to the face as a back spot or duck and cover gracefully as a front spot. You have to learn every ripple sequence and know the moves to a cheer, even if you're stunting the whole time. Because you never know when a girl is going to get hurt. A girl''s going to quit. You never know when you're going to have a week to learn how to do something totally new in order for the routine to work for the game on Friday or the afternoon pep rally or the next competition on Saturday morning. Being a cheerleader isn't like any other sport when you master one position. You need to do it all.

9. How to be a Role Model

There is always going to be a little girl in the stands, watching you and wishing that she could be just like you some day. You're going to see adorable little girls copying your moves from the sidelines and that's going to become your reason for doing this. It doesn't matter how much interaction you really have with younger cheerleaders. Seeing just one little girl looking at you like you're her idol is enough. So, you have to learn how to keep your cool and be respectful. You can't be a diva and you have to watch your mouth. Whether you're in or out of uniform, you're going to be a role model to somebody, because they remember you. Because, no matter what you're wearing, you represent your team at all times and you want to make them proud, as well as every cheerleader that came before you and will come after.

10. The Team Comes First

There's a reason that girls leave cheerleading practice all bruised and battered. Because, it's the only sport where you put yourself in danger to protect a teammate. Backspots are going to grab whatever they can to keep their flyer from hitting the ground, because personal space no longer exists. Their forearms will be bruised from a heavy cradle. Bases get kicked in the face and punched. They get their chests stepped on. Anybody on the ground dives to the ground and offers their body as extra padding if there's no way to catch the flyer. Because, no matter what happens, the team comes first. You have to stop worrying about the attention you'll get or the way you'll look and think as a single unit. Because, in cheerleading, you're only as strong as your weakest link and only as weak as your strongest unit.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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