The title might be a little much seeing that I have a penchant for being a drama queen but hear me out on this one. Most of you know by now that I love to run, but before I was a runner, cheerleading was the sport that I loved. Yes, I did just say sport because it has become SO much more than shaking poms and wearing a short skirt. According to Wikipedia, here’s the definition: Sport (or, primarily in North America, sports) is all forms of competitive physical activity which, through casual or organized participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical ability and provide entertainment to participants. For those who don’t think that cheerleading is competitive or involves physical ability, I encourage you to watch a try-out or national competition, and then we’ll talk. If you don’t want to take the time to look for something online, I went ahead and found a nice little video. It’s not very long, and I think you will agree after watching that these girls and guys are amazing! http://varsity.com/event/1696/2013_NCA_NDA_AS
Okay, sorry about that. Time to climb down off of my soapbox and get on with my post. There were quite a few life lessons to be learned during my time as a cheerleader, and I wanted to share them with you as they translate into real life.
- Being able to work as a team is crucial. I don’t know any squad that could win a competition with only one member or with a bunch of members that couldn’t work together. What would that flyer do if her bases didn’t decide to uphold their end of the deal? Answer: land on the ground and probably get very hurt in the process. Teamwork is necessary in sports and life in general. End of discussion.
- A smile helps, a lot. Have you ever seen the cheerleader who is doing all the motions, saying all of the words, but has no smile on her face? She usually sticks out and not in a good way, and I want to scream at her, “For the love of the children, SMILE!” A smile makes you appear more approachable, happier, pleasant, cheerful, etc. It also helps boosts your mood, especially when your team is getting destroyed. Just do it.
- Confidence is a necessity. It is impossible to be a good cheerleader if you aren’t comfortable enough to get up in front of people, and it takes some guts to stand in front of a packed house and do a routine. Also, it takes a confident girl to pull off some of those crazy uniforms, hair bows, and makeup.
- You will make mistakes, but you have to keep going. I don’t know any cheerleader who has never made a mistake in front of the crowd. It is embarrassing and, depending on the type of mistake, makes you want to crawl under a rock. I remember falling from stunts, but I couldn’t leave. I had to just suck it up, keep going, pretend like it didn’t happen, and pray to God I nailed my next one.
- Hard work and training are part of the game. You don’t make it to nationals sitting on your butt. Everyone has to put in the hours at practice and even at home. Cheerleading takes hard work and dedication, especially when you are judged on every single motion.
- Sometimes you only have one chance to make a good impression. 2 minutes and 30 seconds is all you have when you’re on the competition floor. Routines that are performed at games are even less. This is the one chance to show everyone how great you are. Being able to hit every stunt and synchronize every motion in practice doesn’t matter when you can’t perform under pressure when it matters most.
- There is always someone better than you, so learn from them. In my own opinion, I was a damn good cheerleader. Then I went to college and had my socks blown off by my friend Sarah K. She was the best cheerleader I had ever met, and I met a lot of them. Her motions were flawless, her jumps were perfect, and she had some of the prettiest tumbling I had ever seen. I was instantly intimidated, but I tried to watch her and learn things from her. Also, since she was so good, it made me work harder. I am not sure if she knew this, but now she does 🙂
- Always follow the rules of good sportsmanship. Nobody likes a sore loser or a gloating winner, and there’s the understanding that you win and lose as a team. Cheerleading, like any other sport, help teach this to its members.
- You need to be responsible for your own actions. If you don’t show up to practice, you don’t get to cheer at the game. If you don’t learn the routine, you are the one who looks silly and lets your squad down. Same goes for life. We all know the person who never was held accountable and relied on others to pick up his/her slack. Don’t be that person. Show some responsibility.
- All team members are important and have something to bring to the table. This goes along with number 1. It doesn’t matter if you’re the point in the front of the formation or the person in the back, if you’re the flyer on top of the pyramid or the base at the bottom. Everyone plays a needed role.
What lessons did you learn from sports or extracurricular activities that you can carry through into life?