Posts Tagged ‘ece’

Cheer Life

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

I don’t think I’ve talked about cheerleading in the past, but considering HOW MUCH of my life is currently devoted to Caroline’s chosen sport, it’s about time I start. At least a little.

This is not going to turn into a cheer blog. I don’t know nearly enough to even TRY to become a cheer blog, even if that was my goal. I am literally just stumbling around, spraying her with hairspray and driving her to competitions and trying to remember to pack her skirt when we go out of town.

I was never a cheerleader. I barely even knew any cheerleaders. Everything I know about it comes from my many, many viewings of Bring It On (which, honestly, isn’t a bad place to start) and listening to other parents talk at the gym. I’ve learned A LOT over the past season but I’m going to feel like a newbie for at least a couple more years.

Here’s what I do know so far: Caroline is on a Youth Small Level 1 team called Stardust. Youth teams are made up of kids between the ages of 5 and 11. Small means they have less than 22 kids on the team. Level 1 means they can do tumbling that includes front and back walkovers but not handsprings. Her team is from a gym called East Celebrity Elite – Oakdale. There are a bunch of East Celebrity Elite gyms in New England, and it’s a pretty big and highly-regarded program. I had no idea about any of that when I took Caroline to one single tumbling class to see if she liked it.

Youth teams are eligible for this really big huge important cheer competition held in Florida every May called The Summit. Our gym accepts Summit bids (bids are invitations) if you get one, so when we started the year we knew there was a chance Caroline’s team would have to travel to Florida for the competition. But Stardust had a very rocky start to their season. Caroline and a few of her friends had come from a tiny prep team, where just doing a somersault was considered a success. Stardust was brand new, it didn’t exist last year, so the rest of the kids came from other teams, other gyms, or were brand new. They came in dead last at their first competition.

Then something amazing happened. Those fourteen girls and one boy decided they didn’t like being last. They knew they could do better. The coaches knew they could do better. They put in ALL the work. As parents, we downloaded the music and played it on repeat so the kids could practice at home. We all started shouting “ONE, THREE, FIVE, SEVEN” as loud as possible to keep the counts during performances so the kids didn’t lose their place.

And they got better! SO MUCH BETTER. At a competition in Boston, they won. Then they won AGAIN. And then the unbelievable happened and they received a bid to The Summit.

According to the internet, only 7% of teams that are eligible to go to The Summit get invited. And it’s an at-large bid, not even a wild card, which means we perform on Saturday in the regular comp and not Friday in the first round. It’s a bid deal, is what I’m saying. And a truly huge, amazing, incredible deal for a little team that started at the bottom.

The logistics of The Summit sent me into a panic spiral for a few days (there was a lot of crying) but as of right now it looks like we’ve figured it out and we’re on our way. It’s just Caroline and I headed to Florida, although we’re sharing flights, rides, a house and basically all our time with MANY other cheer families. (Apologies in advance for anyone on that JetBlue flight on May 1st.)

The bonus part of the trip is a few days at Disney World, which is why I’ve come around to being excited. By Sunday night all the cheer stuff will be over and we’ll get some amazing mommy-daughter time.

I think if we made a list of Reasons Caroline Loves Cheer, “spending time with mommy alone” would be really near the top. She likes the physical aspects and LOVES setting goals for herself. She also loves bows and sparkles and getting to wear makeup (although she hates the fake ponytail they wear for comp). The top thing might be the teamwork though – nothing builds trust and friendships closer than this kind of work.

We have a special Disney swag bag reveal for the team tonight, send-off performances tomorrow, and two more practices before we leave. When we get back, the rest of May is an intense schedule of classes getting Caroline ready for tryouts. And by the first week of June she’ll either be on a new team all together or meeting her new Stardust teammates, starting her second full-year season of cheer.



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