By GABRIELLE CAPERO, Columnist
Everyone has at least one thing that they love to do. That is why there are so many great opportunities in high school to get involved with new groups of people that share the same passion as you. Whether it’s sports, an academic team, FFA or a music class, there is a place for everyone. I happen to be one of those people that is involved in numerous clubs, organizations, and teams. One of my favorite things that I’m involved with is the cheer team. Nowhere else do I get the opportunity to spend time with girls who share my passion for school spirit and competition while improving my leadership ability. The friends I have made are some of the best people I know, and the memories we share are unforgettable.
One memory that will stick with me for the rest of my life is my first experience at cheer regionals. We spent hours each week for months before we went to compete. We would sweat, groan, go home with bruises and exhaust ourselves mentally and physically all for this one competition. We spent so much time practicing that the Woodward football boys would actually come and tell us that we were practicing almost double the time they were. It was horrible to go through, but the end result would make up for it.
The week leading up to regionals was absolutely the worst week I had ever experienced. We were physically and mentally exhausted but were expected to push through all of our pain so that we could run through it “one more time.” It was even worse when our stunts wouldn’t hit or someone couldn’t throw their tumbling because their muscles were screaming at them. Our coach would get frustrated with us and we’d end up running or doing some form of physical activity that would just make us even more tired and upset.
Another stressful attribute was that we had a game to go to that Friday night. No one was upset about having to cheer for the football team, we were just worried that we would be getting to bed late that night and still be tired the next morning. To add on to those problems, we would have to stay up an extra two hours after the game so we could travel as far as we had to and because the track at the school was red and it rubbed off onto our shoes.
Finally, it was regional day. We had been preparing for this since practices had started. This was our chance to shine, we only had two minutes and thirty seconds to show off all of our sharpened skills. Two minutes and thirty seconds would determine whether the Woodward High School Cheer Team was good or not.
As my team and I walked out to the mats, the adrenaline took over. With smiles on our faces we performed the best we had ever performed. Every single stunt hit, no one forgot their motions or words, even the tumbling was amazing. Everyone thought that we were for sure getting into state competition; we were the only team that didn’t drop anyone! It was a week after regionals and we had already made the important plans we need to so that we could go.
All the teams were asked to come back on to the mats for the award ceremony. I remember all of us sitting in a circle telling each other how great we all thought we did and how there was no way we wouldn’t make it. Maybe that’s where all of us went wrong. When they announced the teams that would be advancing to the next round, Woodward was not one of them, and it hurt. I felt like all of the hard work had been for absolutely nothing. This was one of the lowest points in my high school career.
As an athlete, I take every failure to heart. I saw this as the biggest let down. I knew that it wasn’t my fault, it wasn’t anyone’s. The other teams were just better but it was hard for me to believe what I knew was right.
After the competition, everyone was down because we all felt cheated out of what we were promised. That’s when our coach, Mrs. Mead, came over smiling as big as she could. She told us how proud she was of us and that we had given it our all and that’s all she could ever ask of us. It was then that I realized that life isn’t about winning or being better than others, it’s about how much we give in what we do. We gave our absolute 100% that day. There was no way we could have done any better.
Ever since then I have stopped getting overly upset about losing at competitions, whether it’s band, cheer or academic competitions. I know that as long as everyone tries their absolute hardest and gives it everything they have then we still win. We walk away without a single regret and together we are all winners. In the end it doesn’t really matter whether you’re first or not. All that matters is that you can walk away feeling satisfied with yourself and your effort.