Hey y’all!

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas, as well as a happy New Year! I also hope that the holiday break has given you guys some much-needed time off, as it has given me! Not only has this occasion given me the opportunity to catch up on all of my thoughts, but also it has brought up some new thoughts as well. With this new opportunity writing for Inside Cheerleading, it has made me miss the sport even more than I already did! It has also made me think long and hard about what I missed about it, and what I thought cheerleading was truly all about. Here’s my list:

  1. To me, cheerleading is about family. We practice everyday for several hours, months on end. We spend this entire time bonding and learning with the same people everyday, which eventually leads to incredible bonds. They’ve got your back and you’ve got theirs (literally), which definitely comes in handy throughout the rest of your life.
  2. To me, cheerleading is about learning patience. There comes a time in every season when the going gets tough and the tough (almost) give up. There have been many times where I couldn’t land a skill, or my stunt group just wasn’t hitting their stunts, and I have practically wanted to throw in the towel. Learning to take a step back, breathe, fix the problem, and move on, has helped me learn to trust the process and be persistent with myself no matter what I am going through.
  3. To me, cheerleading is about physical endurance. Some people think that all we do is use pom poms and scream chants in support (or in opposition) of another team while competing, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The endless tumbling, dancing, stunting, and jumping that comprise a routine require loads of stamina, strength and practice. You can’t just walk in and expect to make it through a full out with no prior practice or training. The sport has helped me to realize that every good thing comes with hard work.
  4. To me, cheerleading is about leadership. It provides many people the chance to step up and set a positive mood for a long night’s practice, or even a day at a competition. Positivity, discipline, hard work, and dedication are all things each athlete has to possess in order for a team to mesh well together, and this sport has taught me how to carry those things with me into the real world.
  5. To me, cheerleading is about having confidence in oneself. If you don’t believe you’re going to throw and land that skill, you probably won’t. Believing in yourself is an important element that cheerleading requires in order for you to be successful, which is also needed when transitioning to the workplace, school, and your entire life.
  6. Last and certainly not least, cheerleading, to me, is a sport. The long nights, early mornings, long car rides, speedy flights, stiff hair, aching muscles, glittery shoes, and endless anticipations aren’t for nothing. We bend and stretch in ways that seem impossible, and we fight hard for the things we want. With bruises and bumps, we stay headstrong until the finish, which is what we have been taught all along.After coming up with this list, I truly realize what I actually missed about cheerleading… along with the amazing uniforms, sparkly bows, and elaborate make-up. If you can relate, here’s a challenge: make your own list of things you love or miss about cheerleading, and share it with your team! Spreading good cheer is something we are definitely great at so don’t hesitate… Just do it!!

McKenzie Henderson

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