Each step seemed like an eternity as they headed toward the practice room. The excited conversation and nervous laughter followed the group of young ladies down the hollow corridor to the uniformed practice room attendant. “You’re up,” she shouted with a twinkle in her eye. Silence fell over the neatly pressed group of cheerleaders as the realization hit. It was time to start their journey to the infamous nationals mat.
5, 6, 7, 8! Was drowned out by the thumping sound system. Teams were scattered throughout the padded room, frantically trying to use every last second to be just a little tighter and a little cleaner. “Switch!” another practice room worker shouted. The team headed toward their last practice mat with hearts pounding. “Music’s on,” coach yelped. The girls sprang into action with determination on their faces. “Switch!” in the blink of an eye practice time was over.
Coach hurried swiftly down the hallway, with a sea of tightly tied bows in step. As they approached the arena tunnel the custom music grew louder, “You know we’re the best…”. The cheerleaders walked stiffly to the line-up backstage. Confidence was running low, as coach turned to address them. “Everything that we have overcome. Everything we have worked for…is for this moment.” The girls huddled together, with their heads close. The announcer called their name, and with chins held high they bounded onto the mat with enthusiasm that would rival a stadium of thousands.
Set in their opening positions that they had practiced for months – their hearts pounded in unison. THIS IS IT. “BOOM!” the final eight count rang out, and the crowd was drowning out any sense of concentration. Jumping, hugging, crying and cheering. As quickly as it had begun the routine was over.
They had accomplished what they had set out to do. Perform at NCA High School Nationals.
It doesn’t matter if you hit a perfect routine, in the end the journey isn’t about winning. It isn’t even about making it into the top five. The journey to NCA High School Nationals is much more than that. It is a time to become a family, to learn how to overcome adversity, to build character, to get back up when you think you can’t, and to believe and trust in your team…your best friends. The journey to Nationals may have been long. It may have been a challenge. But in the end these are the moments you will never forget and remind you that - the work is worth it.
Inspired by the teams from Edmond North High School, Rockwall – Heath JV/F, and Seymour High School. Thank you for your dedication and passion for cheerleading.