The Jacket

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It had finally come. In less than one week, our competitive cheerleading squad would be going to our final destination: Nationals. The entire squad had been anticipating the upcoming weekend the entire season. I myself couldn't keep my mind off of the thought of winning that 1st place trophy and earning that sleek, shiny, black letter jacket with "NATIONAL CHAMPIONS" printed in gold on the back. Almost every year since I started going to the gym in second grade, we had made it all the way to Nationals with a great season, but seemed to get 2nd or 3rd place every time. This year we beleived we might win, considering the squads we were up against.

In that last week before competition, our coach worked us extra hard, calling us for extra practices on top of the regular ones. So we practiced, and we practiced, and we practiced. By the time Thursday rolled around, my back had started to hurt. I thought it was just sore from practicing that week. So, I sucked it up, put an Icy Hot patch on my back, and went on.

The next morning when I woke up, however, the pain hadn't gone away. This was when I started to get concerned, because we were leaving for San Antonio ASAP and would be performing the first round later that night. In the car on the way there, the pain steadily got worse and worse. By the time we were at warm-ups, I could hardly bear the pain. I wanted that jacket sooo bad, so I didn't say anything to my coach.

To make all the matters worse, one of our girls on the top of our stunts (the flyer) came down with a virus. We were in the "on deck" box three times before our coach pulled us completely out of the waiting area, because she kept vomiting everywhere. We sat there for about 30 minutes until Katie finally got strong enough to perform. We all rushed into the "on deck" box and rushed out on stage.

Meanwhile, my back was still getting worse. When our squad finally was able to perform, it had been over an hour after our scheduled time, resulting in our muscles being cold and unstretched. The entire squad practically ran out and performed the routine on a moments notice, and did awesome considering the circumstances. That is, until about halfway through. When it came for me to throw my tumbling pass, I was in tears of pain. I threw my pass, a running roundoff to a triple backhandspring series, and it all seemed to go downhill from there. Our pyramid crashed, and our dance was horrible. We were disappointed in ourselves.

By the time my friend, our parents and I got to the hotel room, I was in excrutiating pain. That night, I couldn't even sleep in the bed; I slept on the couch. The next morning, it was even worse. I couldn't do anything, however, I had to perform in the final round no matter what. We tried everything to make it better. I even went to a massage booth in the competition building.

Right before warm-ups, my coach and I rubbed a good dose of Icy Hot cream on my back and an Icy Hot patch on top. The squad made it through the routine extremely well, and I gave it my best. As we were walking off stage, tears were running down my face without my control.

Our squad ended up getting fourth place, which wasn't bad at all after how horrible our first performance was. Even though we didn't get the jackets (once again) and my back was hurt, I still left with a huge smile on my face because we did our best, and that's all that matters.

P.S: After I got back home I was taken to a doctor, and found that my SI joint (joint in lower back that connects the spine to the hip) had popped out of place, causing the left side of my hip to be higher than the right. For two months, even the smallest things could pop it out of place again, such as standing or sitting in one spot for too long, or lifting something heavy, like a backpack. I am just now getting to the point where I can do more things, and I should be returning to cheerleading pretty soon!





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