What It Takes To Become A Cheerleader For The SEC
Some may believe cheerleading is easy. Those people have no idea about all the hard work and dedication that goes into the sport.
As an SEC cheerleader, I fully understand all the work and effort involved to even be considered for the Ole Miss cheerleading team. My process of becoming the cheerleader I am today has been a long, but rewarding road.
Believe it or not, I was on my first competitive cheer team when I was just 5 years old. My mom’s friends told her to put me on a team because I would never stop flipping and jumping. I am so happy she did.
I started in a small gym about a 15 minute drive from my childhood home. I instantly fell in love with the excitement before competitions and the bond I made with teammates. I remember being in the gym almost daily trying to learn new skills and practicing for upcoming competitions.
I was on a new team in that same gym every year. I felt so accomplished when I moved up levels and finally became part of the hardest team in the whole gym. Being so young, I looked up to all the older girls. They truly shaped me into the woman I am today.
Being on the same team from sixth to eighth grade, I felt like I could achieve more. After much consideration with my parents and the gym owner, I decided to move on to a more elite and well known gym to continue my cheerleader career.
During my freshman year of high school, my whole life changed. It was my goal to earn a spot on one of the hardest working and most renowned cheerleading teams in the United States. The Stingray Allstars Orange of Marietta, Georgia was my dream team. I wanted nothing more than to say I was on the team.
Freshman year, I decided to try out. The whole process was so exciting, and I was not expecting the outcome that came after the weekend-long tryout process. The Orange coach called me late Sunday afternoon to tell me he wanted me on his team. I was more than excited and remember running up and down my street like a crazy person.
My hard work and dedication to the sport continued after I made Orange. I was always in the gym, even though the Stingrays team was a good one-hour car ride from my home. I made strong bonds with the athletes and coaches around me.
Orange Coach Roger Schonder made such a lasting impression on my cheer career and life in general. One of the main things he used to say is “Easy is enticing. Effort is empowering.” Roger made me into the athlete I am today and prepared me for the tryout process of Ole Miss.
I have been lucky to never seriously injure myself through the years. Acrobatics, tumbling, and stunting is all we do. A single slip up can have serious repercussions. Unfortunately, my senior year was cut short due to my first, and hopefully last, serious injury. On stage at one of the first competitions of the season, I landed a tumbling skill in a weird way. My knee instantly popped in and out when both feet landed on the black spring floor. I knew something was horribly wrong.
Miraculously, I walked off stage and straight to the medical center behind the competition. They knew I tore my ACL, and I later learned I tore my meniscus. I thought my cheerleading career was over. All my hopes of trying out for the University of Mississippi cheerleading Team were crushed in a couple seconds.
I immediately had surgery to reconstruct a new knee. After months of physical therapy, I was finally able to walk, jog, and run just before tryouts. Luckily, I had attended multiple camps and clinics at Ole Miss before I hurt myself so the coach knew what I could do. She let me put together videos of my stunting and tumbling from years prior since I could not perform them during the tryout process. I am so grateful for the chance my new coach took on me last May. I was finally an SEC cheerleader at the best university in South.
This past year has been amazing. From being cleared to finally stunt before the first home football game, to tumbling in the competition routine, I knew all my hard work had paid off. I continue to grow as an athlete and person, and I am so thankful to call the South my home. Being a cheerleader in the SEC has been the best thing to happen to me thus far in life.