It was May of 2016, and I was so excited to go to my first practice of my 10th year of cheering. In anticipation of starting a new season, I got chills walking into the hot gym. The coaches sat us down on the fuzzy, blue mat, which immediately brought back numerous memories. They talked to us for what felt like an eternity, and then finally told us what teams we were placed on for the season. When I finally received the news of what team I was on, my heart sunk. I prayed I had heard wrong, but my hope soon vanished.
I was placed on a team that was full of 12 year olds. Not only was I put on a team with younger kids, but they put me on a lower level than the previous season. This revelation struck tears in me right away. I began to cry because I knew I deserve better. One of my old coaches noticed how distraught I was and came over to talk to me. He said how he agreed that I deserve better and that he wished he could do something about it. The only thing I could think of was how this may be the end of an error for me.
Once I left practice, I explained to my mom how devastated I was. I knew after this I was going to have to decide if I should stay or not. I talked to my mom to help me make a decision, and she told me to do what I think is best for me. The main thought that played into my decision was will I enjoy cheering with a team I am not familiar with and with members who were much younger and inexperienced. After a couple of days, I finally made a decision. I was going to quit the team. Although this was the hardest choice I’ve ever made, I felt it was the best option. I knew I would not be happy with the new team. I also realized I would never meet my full potential on a team that was not my level. That night, I texted my coach and explained to him how I was not going to make my mom pay for cheering if I was not going to be my happiest. I also mentioned how I believe I deserved a better team placement. His reply was something I never expected. He claimed I was being a brat about the situation and that I did not deserve to be placed on a higher team. This reply broke my heart because I had been so close with my coach, and for him to say that hurt me. I felt as if I had let him down. But, then I realized that he had let me down, as well. He was the adult, and he failed to communicate with me and provide with me reasons why he thought I should be on the lower level team after all these years of experience. I was loyal to the team and my coach; but he was not loyal to me.
The realization that I actually quit did not hit me until a couple weeks later. I began to miss seeing my cheer friends and doing all the activates that come along with cheering. I lost touch with a lot of people and that was difficult for me. I also missed the adrenaline that I would feel when walking out on the stage and performing. I missed feeling a sense of accomplishment when we mastered a stunt or a technique. I simply missed being a part of a team; however, I knew quitting was the best option for me. Although I miss cheering every day, there were few positives that came about from me quitting. I now have more time to be with my friends and go to events that I never got to before during cheering season. I missed many family events and parties due to practice and competitions. I got a job, and I am learning how to be independent. I also have gained more time to focus on school and myself.
Quitting cheering has changed me for the better even though I miss it every day. I do not regret my years of cheering even though my cheering career ended on a disappointing note. It taught me dedication, perseverance, and loyalty to my team members. These qualities and experiences will remain with me throughout my life.