Performing

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The smell of hot cheerleaders sweating as they come of the stage, and the overpowering odor of lots of hairspray and glitter overwhelms me as I walk into the arena to wait backstage to perform. I smile happily at the smell because even though it isn’t exactly pleasant it tells me that I am back where I want to be. I am listening to the cheerleaders running on the floor so excitedly that it reminds me of a stampede of galloping elephants. With a boom that shakes the floor the music starts and I hear the crowd explode as the team hits the routine perfectly until someone hits the floor with a loud thud as someone falls on their face out of a tumbling pass. As I am appreciating how much that must’ve hurt my friend Hope comes up behind me and starts spraying more noxious smelling hairspray on me because my tight ponytail was already falling out. I laugh and say “Okay that’s enough Hope, I can see a cloud of hairspray completely surrounding my head.”

With a laugh she stops spraying me and steps around me so I can see her. Hope is a 5 foot 4 inches dark brown haired pale skinned girl. We have a short lighthearted conversation and were giving each other hugs and exchanging good lucks when we hear “ And now please welcome Midwest Cheer Elite to the floor,” with a excited smile we joined the rest of the team in running onto the floor. I high-five my friend, feeling her slightly sweaty palm against my equally sweaty one and then we part and I quickly run my hands over my heavy and slightly rough skirt to get rid of the sweat.
I step into place firmly and at the same time snap my head down with my arms down. With a loud explosion of noise the music starts and I start to hit my motions exactly on time as I count through the routine, “1, 2, 3, and 4, 5, and 6, 7, 8, and 1, 2” The rest of the routine passed by in a blur as I did the things I have literally done a thousand times, probably more since my coaches have habit of saying one more time but instead we do it ten times. The few things that stuck out to me though were all of the feelings that coursed through me as I fed off the crowds cheering and my team’s energy. I remember pushing my flyer up into the air using all of my muscles to get her up in the air and then squeezing her shoe, with the patterned rubber bottoms and the soft cloth like material for the top and the laces, to keep her up in the air. I had a sudden burst of energy after we succeeded in our stunt and then I went and tumbled into a round off into 3 back handsprings, loving the way my ponytail quickly went in to my face and then snapped back to its spot before just as quickly as my hands and feet hit the inky blue carpet like material of the bouncy spring floor. Even though I was breathing hard and sweating profusely I was still having the time of my life. It all went by so fast and before I knew it I was walking off the mat to meet my mom who was waiting with a water which I quickly downed, feeling the smooth cold water slide down my throat. Once I finish, she takes me to where the Midwest teams were meeting where she touches up my hair and makeup, gently running brushes across my face and my hair, as I eat a toasted sandwich quickly since I have another performance in an hour and am supposed to be in warm-ups in 15 minutes.
I smiled and laughed with my friends while doing this because while it may seem unreasonably chaotic to most people, this is second nature to me, just like kicking a soccer ball or hitting a baseball is to some people. This is one of the biggest parts of my life, the cheerleading while hanging out with my friends. I have been dedicating myself to this sport for years and it is the one thing that can make me happy when I am truly upset. As I sat there with them we discussed the routine and what place we thought we would get and when my coaches called my team over to go to warm-ups, I said to all the girls I was talking to, “ Well all we have to do is wait and have fun while doing this thing we love.”





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