What I Didn’t Know About Cheer

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Even now, almost a year after I started cheerleading, the word itself still sends a thrill to my stomach, and an instant, big smile to my face.

When I first started cheerleading, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I thought cheerleading would be like Bring it On, or like the all-star teams I saw on Youtube. The first time I saw my squad, I was instantly intimidated. They looked so experienced, and I…wasn’t. There was no instant bonding, or spirit sticks, or round off-flip-flop-back tucks, but I knew I wanted to stay, and work hard to become an amazing cheerleader.

Cheerleading is all about trust, and being confident in your team members. Unfortunately, my team and I didn’t have that at first, which surprised me because I thought cheerleaders were supposed to have an instant connection with their teammates. Over time, we’ve bonded over the hours and hours of blood, sweat, and tears that cheerleading has made us face. We’ve bonded over the wins and the losses, the conditioning and the stretching, the competitions and the game days. We’ve become family, and family doesn’t leave family.

Besides that, I didn’t think—or know, really—about all of the conditioning that cheerleaders had to do when I joined my squad. I thought cheerleaders just did tumbling, and stunts, and dancing with no hard work at all, which was quite naive. I got a rude awakening after my first practice, where we stretched for a good ten minutes, and then did multiple jumping jacks, push ups, and sit ups.

Before cheer, my workout routine consisted of whatever I did in gym class, and walking to classes. Cheerleading has made me stronger mentally and physically, and now, instead of doing one weak push up in gym class, I now do 20 strong push ups.

I believe that the thing I definitely didn’t know the most about in cheer when I first started was competitions. I didn’t realize that It would take me 30 minutes alone to do my hair, or that I would have to carpool with my teammates for a 6 hour drive to a competition that was in our state. I have made many sacrifices to compete, and I do not regret that, because those 2 and a half minutes on the mat showcase what I have spent over hundreds of hours practicing and perfecting.

Cheerleading has pushed me to be a better person, and I’m proud to tell people that I’m a cheerleader. I am fiercely protective of my sport, and will give a great debate if someone says that cheer isn’t a sport. Can you do 60 cheer jacks? Or 60 high kicks in a T-formation for your right and left legs in cold weather? How about 60 frog jumps? Cheerleading is a sport, and being able to call myself a cheerleader, and experience things that are not apart of your average, everyday sport through cheer is an honor all by itself.

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Dani Luckett

Dani is an Illinois native and just recently began her career as a cheerleader. She has quickly come to love all aspects of cheerleading and is a member of the the Kaos Bulldogs, a recreational team that participates in sideline and competitive cheer. She loves learning new choreography and performing her routines at cheer competitions.

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