This week my daughter attended her 8th choreography camp. This will actually be her 9th competitive season but the first team she was on didn’t have choreography camp, it was just a cute Young Champion Pom Pom squad.
That’s how this whole business started. One day my daughter and her BFF came home from school with a flyer, all excited. They wanted to join the pom squad. They did the cutesy, “Please mamma please” dance with their eyes all sparkly. The BFF’s mom and I discussed drop-off and pick-up arrangements. The next thing I know I’m selling raffle tickets to raise money for a $75 uniform. Wow, only $75 – those were the days!
Fast forward a few months later and I’m driving my darling daughter to the state capital about 3 hours away for her very first competition. The whole time I’m thinking, “What in the world am I getting into here?” Understand that I was a tomboy growing up. The whole cheer, dress-up, make-up thing is beyond my comprehension. But there were plenty of families with their little girls all dressed the same way, all excited to see the performance so I settled into a good seat and waited through the other teams until my daughter’s team came on.
Okay, it wasn’t much to look at. I mean these were really little girls ages 5 to 7 and how much do you expect at that age. But they looked adorable with their hair up and their pom-poms trying their best to follow the routine they had been taught. Somehow they managed to get first place with a trophy and medal.
At the end of the routine I went to meet my daughter off the mat as she came running up to me with a huge smile across her face, “Mom, I REALLY like this!!” That was the day, that’s when I knew this was her thing, that’s when it all truly began.
At the end of last season, my daughter faced a choice. She is going into high school this year and they, of course, have a cheer team. She really wanted to be on both the high school cheer and the competitive cheer team (ambitious, she also wants to go to Harvard Law school), but the practice schedules were conflicting. I told her she would have to choose.
She slept on it, the next day she came to me and said, “Mom, I’ve thought about it and I like to compete. The team at school doesn’t compete and I like to compete so I’m going to stick with competitive cheer.” Well, I thought, so much for getting a break in the budget, school cheer would have been a lot less expensive!
So new season here we come! New practice outfits ($150), new shoes ($88), choreography camp ($150) . . . if you’re a cheer mom I’m sure you know the drill. And going into the 9th season I am confident about big hair and getting make-up just right, although by now my daughter is old enough to do it all without much help from me (maybe I can sleep a few extra minutes this season).
Where’s this all going? Well I can say that thanks to cheerleading my daughter is an athlete. She has a goal and it keeps her busy. I have learned that this girl is not just competitive, she’s driven. And that drive goes beyond the cheer gym. She’s dragged me to AVID interviews so she can be in that program in high school so she’ll be ready in college. She’s got her plan and while I know sometimes plans change, I couldn’t be more proud of the path she’s on.
Cheer is more than just a few cute girls. It’s a passion that really starts a fire that shows these girls they can do anything they want if they work hard enough. And as parents, we’ve seen that happen at every competition. Go team!
Every cheerleader has a story, feel free to share yours in the comments!