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Sarah Larsen

Greendale Middle School, Greendale, Wisconsin

When I was growing up, I tried many sports. I played basketball, did gymnastics, played soccer, and many more. For a long time, I thought that soccer was going to be the sport I played for the rest of my life. However, I eventually decided I just did not want to play anymore. My parents were very supportive of my decision, but I knew that we were all wondering the same thing. What would I do next? Would I ever find something I would stick with? Eventually, I did come up with something I wanted to try next: I wanted to be a cheerleader.

When I was in fifth grade, a bunch of my friends were planning on joining the cheer team. At first, I was hesitant, but I wanted to do it because all of my friends were. I signed up and then waited for the first practice. I remember getting all ready and being pretty excited. As I pulled up to the gym, I was still looking forward to it, especially because all of my friends would be there. However, that all changed when practice started. I hated it, and all I wanted to do was go home. Learning the cheers was just so difficult. I had no clue what I was doing, and I just thought the whole scene was overly peppy and ludicrous.

Once practice was over, I climbed into the car where my mom was waiting for me. While I stared out the window, I told my mom how desperately I wanted to quit.

I remember saying something like, “I hate cheering! I never want to go back!”

My mom, however, refused to let me quit. When the next practice rolled around, she forced me to go. This practice went much better, and I realized that cheer wasn’t as bad as I thought. Our first football game, however, was what truly changed the way I felt about cheer.

When I walked up to the tall, silver gates in front of the football field, I felt a little nervous, but I was also super excited. Standing on the sidelines in my bright orange uniform, I felt so accomplished. It was such an amazing feeling to be standing in front of a crowd cheering, tumbling, and performing stunts. For me, hearing the crowd cheer while we performed was like being on top of the world.

Once I experienced that feeling, I was determined to try my hardest at everything I did and to reach every goal I set for myself. I keep that attitude with me today, and I think it has shaped me into the person I am today. While I struggled, I am truly grateful that I found something I am truly passionate about. Cheer is something that I want to carry on with for as long as I can, and I am glad that I finally have something like that.

© Sarah Larsen. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team and we can put you in touch with the author’s teacher.