This I Believe

Ashley - Tonganoxie, Kansas
Entered on May 16, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: sports
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How do you classify an athlete? I think an athlete is someone who practices, works hard, loves what they are doing, and is determined to do better. I believe that cheerleaders are athletes.

I am a cheerleader at Tonganoxie High School. At my high school cheerleaders are not considered athletes, yet we pay an athletic fee at the beginning of the school year. Cheerleading is considered an extra-curricular activity, which it is, but it is also a very difficult sport.

Every day of our summer vacation we wake up early to go to a hot and tiring practice. During the summer we go to camp, which we pay full tuition for. We get about a total of two weeks off during the summer. Then the school year comes and we practice every day after school, unless there is a game or meet. After practice we might stay late to make signs and banners that support our teams. We get maybe a month of the school year off but it is spread out among the year.

A regular practice consists of jumping, cheering, stunting, and a little bit of tumbling. We start out with jumps. A jump is when you jump as high as you can and hit different positions in the air. A toe touch, left side, and right side are the standard jumps that my squad does. Then we move on to cheering. We do each cheer until our motions are perfect. Then it is time to stunt, a stunt is when we lift and throw people in the air. Stunting can be very dangerous and it is very complicated. Tumbling is basically doing gymnastics. We do back flips and a variety of other tricks.

For stunting, I am usually one of the flyers. A flyer is a person who is lifted into the air. I can tell you that it can be very dangerous. I have come close to being hurt very bad while doing stunts. It is not the fault of the lifters, sometimes it just might not go right. Almost every squad experiences falls. At practice we have spotters, or people who are not in the stunt standing around the stunt to catch you incase you fall. Usually at games you don’t have spotters though. Stunting can be very scary. I have experienced falling face forward straight to the ground and not being caught until my face was about two inches from the grass. It wasn’t specific persons fault, but at least I wasn’t hurt. Sometimes you get the wind knocked out of you and you usually get bruises all over your arms and legs.

We are very hardworking and dedicated athletes. We don’t stop trying if something goes wrong. We keep practicing until we fix what is wrong. We support our school and we love this sport. The squad becomes great friends throughout the year and some of those friendships will last forever. We love being with each other and having fun doing our favorite thing. Cheerleading is very important to me and is a big part of my life.