A Proud Recovery This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   A Proud Recovery

by H. O., Rocky Hill,


...V-I-C-T-O-R-Y... Yell it. Yes, our first cheer is over, and it went great. Hey, maybe this is not that bad after all, I thought, as Kelly, Stacey, and I put Amy up in an extension prep. Perfect, our first stunt went up very sharply and I am ready to do the first dance. All we need now is music and then we can really show our stuff.

The practices for our competition routine started in the middle of December. Oh, the work that we had ahead of us! It seemed so exciting, yet so overwhelming.

"You will be doing a series of four cheers and three dances and you have four minutes to do it," Gayle, our coach, warned us as we listened intently.

The practicing started. Although there were dances and cheers to be learned, toe touches to be perfected, and basket tosses to be thrown a lot higher, no one was concerned because we knew that we still had three months to perfect it.

This worry-free feeling did not last for long. Time was running short and yet we still needed so much work. The three-hour practices at the Athletic Club were dreadful. After waiting in line to show Gayle our toe touches, the usual responses were "You need to smile," "You have to point your toes," and "Bring your leg up higher." This was so discouraging. Many days when I walked out of practice, I made a vow that I would never go back. Then the next day, I would realize that I just could not let my team down.

At our last practice on the 26th of March, everything went great, but anxiety about the next day was building up in my head.

Saturday was finally here. I had been anticipating this day for the past three months. After sitting in the suffocating gym and watching other squads perform their routines for three hours, it was now time for the Rocky Hill cheerleaders to show their stuff.

As we formed our last group huddle, we squeezed each others' hands and stood there silently, praying for success. What was to happen in the next five minutes of our lives, we were not too sure about. Thoughts were racing through my mind as the nerves were crawling up my skin.

I straightened my uniform for the last time, and then made sure that my French braid was nice and tight. My stomach was doing flip-flops as I gazed around the yellow gym filled with cheerleading squads from all over the state. The crowds of people, bunches of balloons, spirit posters, and the bright colors of the many different uniforms put me in a fantasy world.

Plainville finished their routine and did great. Now it was our turn to prove that we were better than any other squad in the Class M round.

As we walked down the bleachers toward the gym floor, I forced myself step by step to enter Hell. Soon the gym quieted down, I could hear my heart beating and I wanted to vomit. The judges got their pens ready.

"Rocky Hill, take the floor."

"Rocky Hill, NOW - " the judge bellowed into a loudspeaker. Ahh, come on, Holly, you can do it, I thought to myself.

Phew, the first cheer was finished, but now we had to do our first dance. We waited in our stunts for the music.

And we waited. Oh no, why isn't the music turning on, I thought. It seemed as if we were standing there for eternity. We could no longer support the weight of Amy's body. Please go on, our time is running out. The crowd silently stared in disbelief. Our smiles started to fade, we were helpless. Suddenly from behind me, I heard Juliana scream "GO"

We flicked our stunts and with panic proceeded to our next line. The dance, with or without music, would still go on.

"1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8," I counted to myself as tears streamed down my face, and I robotically performed the dance. The rest of the routine went downhill from there. One of our stunts fell and our jumps were horrible.

When our routine was finished, we ran off the court in anger and utter humiliation. There wasn't a word to be spoken, just the fresh wet tears rolling down our faces and hysterical sobs. I watched the last squad perform their routine and I sat there thinking, THREE MONTHS, THREE MONTHS, for something stupid like this to happen.

There then was a voice over the loudspeaker, and we all looked in the judges' direction. "The judges have asked that Rocky Hill be given another opportunity to perform with their music."

I looked at Martha, "I cannot believe this is happening," I said.

We all looked at each other, smiled, and then started jumping up and down, hugging. Unless you are a cheerleader, you would never understand how I felt. It is indescribable. We calmed down and then once again took the floor.

"Rocky Hill, take the floor."

"Rocky Hill, NOW."

The first cheer went great. I do not think I ever smiled harder in my life than during those five minutes. The music went on and our dance was spectacular. The basket toss was higher and sharper than it ever had been. Our toe touches were perfect, and most of all, we worked as a team.

This time we ran off the court with smiles on our faces and feelings of relief. When the winners were announced, we did not take a place, but we were probably still happier than any squad that did. We knew in our hearts that we really could work as a team. We could recover from our mistakes, and not give up even in the most terrible of situations.

"It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game." Until March, I never realized how much truth there is in this saying.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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LoveStunting<3 said...
Nov. 29, 2011 at 11:02 pm
I love this! I'm a cheerleader, freshman, and this will be my first year going to State. (Really, it's my first year cheering...so..yeah. ha) Anyway, the girls that have been in cheer for a couple years say that one yar the music did the same thing with them. But instead of continuing and doing it again, they were asked to just start over. But I really hope that it doesn't happen this year, and I really think this will help me with the nerves and everything! Beautiful piece! :)
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