Cheerleading is a sport where you shout out special songs, and chant to encourage a football team or entertain the crowd watching along the bleachers. Yet, to my team and coaches it was much more then that. It was a way of life, and we dedicated all our time to the sport when it was in season. My teammates and I worked ourselves to the bone perfecting our jumps, back hand springs, basket tosses, and most importantly the chorography that went into our routine. We would all meet up at the local recreational center everyday after school for a two hour-long practice. We were a talented group of young girls, but we were driven to improve and challenge ourselves.
With two 1st place titles and one 2nd place finish, we were on our way to compete in the 2004 nationals competition in Orlando, Florida. This was huge; no other team from the city had made it past regionals before. We jumped up and down, hugged each other and chanted our cheers all the way back home where we talked about and planed our upcoming trip to Florida.
Ever since we had landed in the sunshine state, my fourteen other teammates and I were having a blast. I felt as if I were floating in mid air. All our dedicated hard work had got us here, and we walked around the Music Studios suite as if we already had the competition in the bag. The day before our big competition we all woke up early to have some fun, and venture in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. After, we sat down for lunch the place buzzed with gossip about the other teams we had met on our trip. We couldn’t wait until the adults picked up the tab because we knew at 4:15 we had scheduled mat time to practice our routine.
Our coach reserved an hour for us to run though our cheer, chorography, stunts, jumps and tumbles. As a team we nailed our 2 and half minute timed routine several times. While the others took a break, my fellow tumbling friends and I took turns practicing our floor exercises. Claps and cheers shook the room when each girl landed her flip. It was my turn to receive the same recognition from my teammates and onlookers. I ran half way down the mat for a round off backhand spring tuck, something I’ve done a trillion times, but this time it was much different. When I landed I had instantly collapsed to the floor. At that moment that only sound that shook the room was my shriek. Every person in that room swarmed over to me in a hurry. All I could think was that I blew our chances at the title. My coach had ordered everyone to disperse away from me as she closed in onto my right foot for examination. The sound of her voice was soothing; she was cool and collected through the process.
“Does it hurt when I do this?”
“How about right here. When I touch here do you feel pain?”
With tears in my eyes I shook my head yes.
“It looks like you’ve got a sprain.”
Now everyone was going to hate me; I couldn’t…