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Perseverance Pays Off

Cheerleading is a dangerous sport and being on any cheer team comes with a very serious and very realistic possibility of injury. During basketball season of my freshman year in high school, I became a cheerleader. Before then, I hadn’t done anything like it and I was really nervous to be trying out, but also excited to be starting something new. I was a flyer on the junior varsity team when my first major injury occurred. Stunting was by far my favorite part of practice and it still is so, I was really excited about my stunt group and to be flying for my first time. My back spot was Larissa who wasn’t my usual back, but she seemed to know what she was doing, and my bases, Carly and Hannah, were both new but they were very strong and Hannah was my best friend, so that definitely helped.

On the day of the incident, my stunt group was just practicing preps, which is essentially the most basic stunt you can do in cheerleading. When everybody does their job a prep should go smooth like an elevator, no matter how strong or weak the group is. My group had been practicing preps for a long time, but I was still being lowered to the ground, which is called penciling down, instead of cradling. While cradling is one step up in difficulty from penciling, it is actually easier because the bases and backspot throw and catch instead of slowly bringing their flyer to the ground. However, no matter how simple or difficult something is, you always have to clear it with the coaches before doing it, especially when it’s new for your group. Since our coach wasn’t there, we asked the assistant coach, she wanted to see a prep first, to make sure we were going up smoothly. My group set for the prep nervously since we were now being watched and failure would mean not being able to cradle. I placed my hands on my bases shoulders and when I heard Larissa yell “Ready 1 2”, I jumped into their hands and pushed off of their shoulders, standing up and hitting the prep with success. Once I was steady, I was so relieved, knowing I could trust my group. After seeing this, the coach said we would be fine to start cradling, but to get a drink and breathe for a minute because we had been practicing for a long time and were getting tired.

When we got back from our water break, we set for a prep, trying not to pay too much attention to our returning nerves. The prep went up with ease, and I was reassured that the cradle would go the same. Once we were in the prep, Larissa checked to make sure that I was ready then she called “Ready 1 2”, and the group dipped and threw. However, instead of throwing up Larissa threw forward, and I came smashing down onto the carpet-like mat. First, my arm hit then the rest of my body followed, this collision left me with mat burn up my arm and a very sore back. The varsity coach came over to check on me and told me I was going to go up on her best group, so I wasn’t scared anymore. The varsity group was very good and everything went perfectly. Once I was back on the ground, I felt the tears streaming down my face, and even though I had no idea when they had started, I knew that since my fear was gone, they no longer meant anything.

With no fear weighing me down, I continued flying and eventually became the main flyer in the center of the pyramid. By the time I made it there, all my fears towards stunting had vanished. This is all because I got right back up instead of avoiding the fear. Getting back up and pushing forward is something I can use in many other aspects of my life and that can be very helpful for future problems and obstacles.

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