When presented with the question, “what is your greatest accomplishment” most people would tell you a story about themselves, and what makes them so great. My greatest accomplishment would’ve been impossible to achieve by myself.
I am a competitive all-star cheerleader. I’ve spent almost every weekend during my elementary to high school years at a convention center doing something that I love. I spent countless hours in the gym with my 19 other teammates and my coach, who is a young entrepreneur at age 23. I am an 11-year veteran on our most demanding and advanced teams: Senior Level 4 and Level 5. Being on two teams isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.
In the Fall of 2013, we began to choreograph our Senior 4 routine for the 2014 season. We had gotten the news that our coach was taking us to Orlando, Florida for ESPN’s The Summit Nationals, which is the world’s largest cheerleading competition. There are over 900 teams in attendance uniting in roughly 20,000 cheerleaders in one place at one time. We had known early, because it was such a big competition that our chances of winning our first time there were very small. Nevertheless, we trained hard. Really hard. We integrated the most challenging skills in our routine that the level would allow and we were confident with them. We set a goal to place in the top five and we thought that if we left our hearts in the mat that we could attain that goal.
In February, we made our way down to Orlando, Florida and the night before the competition started, we went to the arena to check it out. We walked through the practice arena and were in awe of what was in front of us. Everywhere you looked was a stellar team showcasing their talents and proving why they should take home the national championship title. This particular competition was a two day competition in which our scores from both days would be averaged to get our final score. On the first day we went out and performed everything we had nearly perfect with just one mistake. We were all anxious to see how we did, not knowing that our coach got the scores and we were in first with a 20 point lead feeling relief and excitement! We were ecstatic but then quickly composed ourselves because we knew that there was still another day of competition.
On day two, we went into the arena with our heads held high and the weight of achievement and responsibility on our backs. The time came quickly and before I knew it we were running out onto the stage hand in hand in front of everyone. The lights were shining in our hopeful eyes and I felt the butterflies in my stomach. The time was now and there were no second chances. The moment of silence before our music starts is almost unbearable. The routine starts and we start performing like we never have. During the performance, I caught a glimpse of my coach, she was crying. We had made her proud and in that moment we all knew. We knew that we had given everything we possibly could and we knew that our fate was in the judges hands. At the end of the routine, all 19 members of the team were in a huddle on the floor, crying because we knew what we had achieved.
We made our way to the awards ceremony, as hopeful as we’d ever be. They were announcing the top 10 teams and our name still hadn’t been called. With our hands interlocked, our knuckles turning white, squeezing our eyes shut hoping that they wouldn’t call our name as we moved onto top three. My heart was beating out of my chest and I could feel my body trembling. Second place was called…it was not us! We had won. We were national champions. The tears rolling down our faces as we jumped to hug each other. I have never experienced a feeling like that in my entire life. The blood, sweat, and tears that went into this routine showed how determined I was as a person and as a team to be able to become the national champions of 2014. Without those girls I never would have been able to achieve something on a scale as large as that. I owe my achievements to them, as they are now part of me. To say that was my greatest achievement and the best moment of my life is an understatement because we shared this as a team.