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Cheerleader to Bee
“Come on, Em. Just do it. Just go, and try out.” These are the words of encouragement from my mother the morning of Jesuit High School’s Cheerleading Try-outs.
“MOM! Please, don’t stress me out! I have that silly spelling bee today, anyway! Besides, I don’t even know if being a Jesuit Cheerleader is something I truly want; I’m still making my decision!”
Thus, the most hectic yet thrilling day of my life begins. First stop: Xavier University. My mother and I arrive at the campus around 8:00 A.M. After the registration process, I calmly wait for the first round of the spelling bee to start. The entire morning is incredibly cliché: one hundred middle school kids all ready for intense spelling are anxiously scattered around the halls of Xavier. Of course, there is the group of kids who are so nervous that they appear as if they are about to explode. Then, there are the kids with their psychotic moms and competitive dads freaking out more than the child. No offense to the nerds; that whole scene is just not my cup of tea.
As the morning goes on, I unfortunately advance to the next round of the geek fest which will occur in the afternoon. I quickly scramble to my mom’s car. And we’re off.
“Well, it’s a good thing Xavier and Jesuit are so close by one another, huh?” My mother attempts to make me feel better about the long day I have ahead of me.
Next stop: Jesuit High School. I convert the back seat of Mom’s suburban into my personal dressing room, and I enter the gymnasium just as the clinic for the try-outs is beginning.
So, here I am at the try-out. Unstretched. Muscles cold. I give my best effort to absorb the motions and moves of the chant, cheer, and dance that are to be performed during the try-out. The only problem is that I have to be back at Xavier in less than half an hour. Half heartedly, I learn as much as I can in the little time my eventful schedule allows, and again, I am on my way to Xavier.
The second round of the spelling bee feels like an eternity. I honestly have never hated the sound of the twenty-six letters of the English alphabet with such passion. I spell my fourth word of round two correctly, so I know I am not yet free to leave. Surprisingly, as the round continues, I think that it may actually be exciting to be a finalist in a district spelling bee. This feeling helps me realize that whatever is supposed to happen on this active day of my life will indeed happen.
Again, I step up to the microphone.
“Your word is venue.”
The only thing that comes to mind when I hear the word venue is the fact that I had spelled it wrong in my practice spelling bee only a few weeks before. I remember asking my teacher many questions; I had no clue what a venue was. Then, I remember my teacher tossing me tips: “Venue, like menu.” Therefore, my ignorant self has the instinct, “Oh, right! I got it!”
For the second time in my spelling career, only four of those twenty-six letters slip out of my mouth more confidently than ever:
“I’m sorry, you are incorrect. The correct spelling of the word is v-e-n-u-e. You may have a seat.”
Well, taking a seat was the last thing I had time to do. Rather than going to my seat in the audience, I meet my mom in the back of the room, and we, again, rush out of the university and back to Jesuit High School. I am now absolutely determined to not be a loser twice in one day. I, all of a sudden, want nothing more than to be a Jesuit Cheerleader.
By this time, every other girl trying out for the team has mastered all the material for try-outs, when all I’ve accomplished so far is to incorrectly spell the word venue, AGAIN. But that is in the past; I must focus on the here and now.
I hear the moderator announce as I reenter Jesuit’s gym: “Try-outs will start in forty-five minutes. You have this time to eat a snack, take a break, and individually practice the try-out material.”
Those forty-five minutes, however, will be used differently for me. I go to the instructors and ask them if they can teach me the material again; I don’t know how, but I manage to gather three and a half hours worth of cheerleading and soak it up in a matter of 2,700 seconds.
I felt good about my try-out, considering the circumstances. Though this day was extremely overwhelming, I received just the right news about an hour after I performed for the judges.
This hectic yet thrilling day not only gave me reason to kick myself in the head if I ever spell the word venue incorrectly again; but it gave me four wonderful years as a Jesuit High School cheerleader.