Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Few Lessons from Cheerleading

A couple of weeks ago, I got sucked into a show on ABC Family (no, I'm not comfortable with "Freeform"... rude).  I think it was called Cheer Squad or something like that. I was hooked. Christian kept giving me such a hard time because I watched it every night until I finished the whole season in just a few days.

Let me explain: I was a competitive cheerleader for quite awhile growing up and I frequently regret quitting when I did. I'll even prove it with this awful picture from the Myspace days. Man, I do not miss the duck face.

When you are finished laughing at that picture.....

I loved cheering. Was I the absolute best cheerleader on the planet? Absolutely not. But I was pretty decent and I loved every second of it. There's nothing like working your butt off for months and months all for 2 minutes and 30 seconds of performing. I know, I know, it seems like a lot of work for nothing but holy crap it was so worth it. 

I tried to track down a video of one of my routines, but the one I could find was terrible quality so here, take a peek at a more current routine. This is the team on the show I watched. Please just pay attention to just how much is going on in one given moment. 

The point for today was not just to ramble about cheerleading but to actually highlight what I learned from my years as a cheerleader and the reasons I hope at least one of my (future) children will follow in my footsteps!

Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. // Cheer coaches ask you to do some weird things. From insane stretching to weird stunts and crazy tumbling passes. I swear I was asked told to do something that pushed me out of my comfort zone on almost a daily basis.
Because trust me, this doesn't come easily. Also, it's heartbreaking to look at that and know I could do that and now I can barely grab my foot when I'm stretching out my thighs.... And oh yeah, I was a flyer (so I was up in the air). 

There is no giving up. // Trust me, when it's the middle of a summer day in the South, and you've been running laps around the football field for 30 minutes, you want to give up. When you've fallen from your stunt 5 times in a row and you want to kill your stunt group, you want to give up. When all your friends are sleeping in on Saturday and watching Lizzie McGuire reruns and you're up before the sun getting your hair curled and driving hours to a competition, you want to give up. When you've been working a tumbling pass for weeks and you still can't land it right, you want to give up.

There were so many days I wanted to just walk out of practice and never look back. But you can't. Your team is depending on you and the satisfaction from running longer than last time, hitting the stunt perfect in competition and winning that competition is worth it. 

Cheerleading truly taught me perseverance that I don't know I would have without it. 

Teamwork makes the dream work. // Ha, I had to. But jumping back to the point before, you can't quit because others depend on you. There are more people in this world than just you. Had I walked out, 20 other girls would be left to fill my gaping hole. At one point, I was on 5 squads, so really it was 60 girls who would have been left to fill my gaping hole. 

I've taken this lesson through my whole life. I was always the organizer of group projects in college and now at work, it's the same way. I never say no to anyone and try so hard to be a team player all the time (sometimes to a fault... but that's another story for a different day). 

And yes, that's a real picture of a team I was on in 2006 - hence the terrible quality. Bonus points if you find 14 year old Leslie. 

So there you have it: some thoughts on the sport that shaped who I am today and some crazy, terrible pictures of high school Leslie. You're welcome?

Happy humpday, everyone!

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