It’s 6:45 a.m. on a Saturday, and my alarm is going off. It would be easy to hit a button, roll over, and forget about even waking up. Instead I hop out of bed and get ready for three hours full of cheerleading. If you told any athlete that he or she has to wake up at seven o’clock on a Saturday morning to go to a three hour practice, it isn’t likely that the athlete will be excited about going. On the other hand, no true athlete would be willing to go play a game or go compete without some practice. So why do athletes practice if they aren’t always happy about doing it? Participating in a sport requires passion, that’s why. Passion is defined as any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate. I believe it takes passion to play any sport.
This past March, my cheerleading squad was entered in the New England regional championship. After placing third in the state competition, our team had a week left to prepare. Although everyone was excited to go to New Hampshire to compete, we all knew that our entire week would be spent practicing jumps, perfecting stunts, and even changing some of the routine around to benefit the team. Any activities we might have had planned had to be put on hold and sacrificed in order for the team to practice. Each night we spent at least three hours practicing, sometimes until late on a school night. Every team member was exhausted. At times there was even tension among team members who argued because of fatigue.
The day of regionals finally came after a week of non-stop practice. No one on the team was sure of how the competition would turn out, but we were all sure that we had worked hard to get where we were. This was it, the performance of the year. Not only had we worked all week to perfect our routine, but we had also worked all year to become the team which had turned into more of a family. I remember being on the mat during our performance and hearing the team talk to each other, encouraging one another to do our best. It was at that point that I knew all the grueling hours of practice and hard work had paid off. Even if we didn’t place, the team was proud to have done our best. Although it didn’t matter to us how anyone else had done, it turned out that our team had placed second in New England and beat our rival school.
There are times when an athlete is going to hate their sport, but for any true athlete, in the end, the love of the game prevails. It is this passion that allows athletes to push through hard times and reach success. A sport isn’t always going to be fun, but it is always going to be rewarding. To some athletes, such as my cheerleading squad, passion for the sport is more important than winning. Passion allows athletes to be rewarded for pushing through tough practices, even if the reward is simply knowing that the athlete has done his or her best and has not let his or her teammates down.
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