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NCA in Dallas
Beep! “Jenny Parker for checkout, please,” the voice from the box said. Oh, no, I thought, it could not be that time yet, but yet it was. So I closed my books and tucked them back away in my desk, grabbed my book bag, and was on my way out the door.
As I was leaving, my classmates wished me luck, as well did my teacher. They all told me to go kick some butt and expected to see me on television. I had smiled at them and just made a little chuckle, and then out the door I went.
I was walking down the brightly lit halls of Unity Grove Elementary School to its main office. Once I had reached there I saw my mom, Aunt Tina, and my cousin Lacey. I looked at all their faces, and they had looked just as distraught and terrified as I did. Yet at the same time, I was a little excited.
Now, you are probably wondering what in the world am I so anxious, excited, and terrified about. So I guess I could let you in on what it is…NCA! Also known as National Cheerleaders Association. It is kind of, sort of a big deal. Okay, no, scratch that! IT IS a gigantic, enormous, overly sized huge big deal! It is a competition for all of the cheer teams in the nation to come to and battle it out for first place. So maybe now you may see why I was a bit on edge then.
That year it was to be held in Dallas, Texas. It was twelve hours from where I lived! Okay, well, anybody should know just by hearing the name of the competition that you can’t show up looking like a fool. Wait, let me rephrase that; you could not even show up looking just average or pretty good. You had to be jaw-dropping flawless if you were expecting, even thinking about placing in the top three.
As some of you boys are reading this; y’all might be thinking cheerleading is not a hard sport, and doing flips and junk is not that hard of a workout. Just let me tell you it is! You guys just think about this for a second; go ahead and compare weight room lifting to us cheerleaders lifting people up and down and throwing them eight to ten feet up in the air. Yeah, now that you think of it that way, you might start giving us cheerleaders some credit now. If that were not enough to convince you, then go ahead and think about a football player sprinting the ball down the field for a touchdown. How does this compare to cheerleading, you ask? Well, cheerleaders have to jump, run, dance, tumble, and stunt multiple times throughout a routine. We have to get our heart rate racing, too. So now you silly boys might believe me, as a cheerleader, that this competition is something to stress about.
With this is mind, every team practiced hard for eight straight months or more getting ready for this competition. We all had wanted to be called the best in the nation. Practices had been long, harsh hours of working the routine to perfection. It took every ounce of dedication we had, but we managed to think of how much it would pay off in the long run. That thought always pushed us even harder and got us through it all.
As I am telling you all of this, these were my exact thoughts. Once I, my mom, Tina, and Lacey had boarded the plane I started flipping out! I just wanted to yell at myself and say, “Calm down, Jenny!” Not even that would have helped me, though. The only thing that helped was a nice nap on the plane. Awe it was great, because, hey, I am stress free in my sleep.
Of course most good things must come to an end, though, meaning the flight was over and I had to wake up and get up…ugh! We departed from the plane and went to gather our luggage. Then off to the hotel we went!
Swoosh! The door swung open, and I charged for the big cozy bed. I jumped right in it and fell fast asleep. No goodnights or anything to anyone. I had to get my sleep because one of the biggest events in my life was tomorrow. I had to be well rested and ready to go.
Suddenly the sound of an alarm clock had awoken me, and what had felt like five minutes of sleep was in all actuality six hours! I remember thinking, “I can’t believe it’s actually time.” Today is one of the two days that we have to show the judges who we are. I looked over at Lacey as she woke up, and I could just tell she was having similar thoughts. We were both so incredibly nervous to perform that we were speechless!
Lacey and I had got ready, and we headed to the competition. There were very few words spoken that morning. We were so concentrated and in the zone. When we reached our coach and other team members it was game time.
Warm ups were perfect. We had nailed everything. Now we just had to do the same thing in front of the judges. We took the floor with words of inspiration from our coach in our hearts. Seconds of waiting for the music to come on felt like eternity. Then BOOM the music started, and the routine had begun.
Most of us exited the floor with spirit; even though none of us really felt cheery anymore. Along with the lack of cheer, some of us where hacking up lungs and shedding a few tears when out of the judges’ sight. You know what that means; we didn’t do a good job at all. Stunts fell out of the air, which has never happened to us before! Three people collided in their tumbling which had made it look like a train wreck! I had fallen on my butt when I was catching my flyer in a basket! It was just a big fat mess of a performance! Let’s get real now; did we really expect to be placed in the top three that day in our division? Heck NO! We had ended up placing in twelfth place that day, which was… dead last. Our coach had told us to keep our heads up, though. We still had one more chance the next day to prove to the judges and everybody else that we are the best.
Tick tock, tick tock. Time passed and it was now the next day. Everything was going the exact same way; quiet morning, perfect warm ups, same exact words of inspiration. We were all just praying, hoping we would hit a solid routine this time. Right before the music had begun, I shouted to my team mates, “We got this, y’all! Show everybody watching who we are!” And so…WE DID!
We performed a flawless routine with crazy overloaded energy. Right after I hit that last motion of the routine, I ran up to my teammate who was also my best friend, Taylor, and knocked her down from jumping on her because I was so full of excitement and joy. You’d be crazy to think it was just me doing this crazy stuff like knocking teammates down. Heck, it was ALL of us! Lauren, the boldest girl on the team, ran up to our coach and gave him a big fat kiss on the cheek! It was a priceless Kodak moment, along with every other Kodak moment the next five minutes. We were re hugging each other while rolling around on that big blue floor and shouting, “We did it!” Just now we had to see if the judges thought we did it. Meaning who wins first place?
Awards time! I could tell that my coach was so anxious and just praying we would get what we had worked so hard for…”the title of champions.” The announcer called out twelfth place, wasn’t us. Eleventh place wasn’t us. Tenth place, still not us…third, NOT US! The announcer asked for the following two teams to come to the middle of the floor; Premiere Atlanta Bears (us) and Dallas Cheer. With overwhelmed faces we had done so.
Now in second place…Dallas Cheer! And your champions are PREMIER ATLANTA BEARS! Yes! We did it! All of our hard work paid off! We went home with the title of champions, dead last place all the way up to first. It’s kind of a miracle, huh?