I was in the 5th grade the first year I tried out for cheerleading. I didn’t really know what it was but a lot of the girls in my elementary school had been cheering since they were in 1st grade. I think try-outs took place over a week. I remember learning a cheer, chant and jumps. On the last day we had to perform in front of all of the parents and other cheerleaders.
I wasn’t as good as the other girls. Each night after the clinic I would go home and practice. My mom would comment on how my jumps were low, that she couldn’t hear me and I kept looking at the ground. She thought I was ignoring her but I wasn’t. So when I went out on the floor I picked my head up, made my voice as loud as I could and jumped up the best that I knew how.
Following the try-outs a list of the girls and what team they made was put up on the wall. I thought I was nervous during the try-out, but standing in the line I could feel my heart in my throat beating very very hard. I got up to the paper searching for my name and there it was. I made the team. I almost lost my mind with excited. And then … a girl said “I can’t believe she made it”.
That voice echoed in my head for months. Not in a negative way, but as a motivator. Each day I would push myself, to show my teammate who had made the comment, that I was meant to be on the team. I never gave up no matter what. If my toes weren’t pointed at practice, I’d go home and sit in a straddle and practice holding them in the pointed direction for 20 seconds on and off. If my jumps weren’t high enough, I’d practice them for hours. If I didn’t know the words or motions I’d ask someone for help. But I refused to fail.