Now that sideline and competition seasons are almost at a close, the off-season is coming up next. Ideally, you wish the good times with your teammates would never end! However, it’s that time of year when every cheerleader goes through a transition. You might be trying out for next year (with potentially new teammates), switching to a team at a higher level, moving to a new school, aging out, or possibly sitting next year out due to an unfortunate injury; one thing is for sure–times are changing. This is a bittersweet experience, knowing that this is all for the best since you’re moving forward with your life and cheer career (unless you’re injured, which just sucks). Plus, it’s terrifying imagining what it will be like next year without your trusty cheer besties by your side! Whatever your reason, the time has come to leave your familiar team behind. In case you’re reluctant to let go (understandably so), here are four tips to keep in mind when saying goodbye to your team.

1. Commemorate your teammates. Make your last cheer memories last with teammate keepsakes! Perhaps you have been taking a bunch of photos along the way, and can turn your last season into a lasting team collage. Or maybe you want to give in to your crafty side, and turn team inside jokes into hanging ornaments or trinkets! Love to write in your spare time? Try your hand at writing a fictional tale of your team through a short story, or morphing your team into a crime-fighting cheer squad in a comic book, or chronicling your squad’s experiences through poetry. Any way you want to go about it, a thank you gift to your squad will really show how much you’ve appreciated all this time you’ve spent cheering by their side.

2. Keep your cool. Saying goodbye is never easy, especially to the people closest to you. Your team is your second family, and the thought of them not being there for you any longer can be soul-crushing. You might be dreading the thought of leaving, but keep in mind that your teammates are feeling the exact same way! If you start falling to pieces when the moment finally comes, then that will send off a chain reaction with the whole team. It’s okay to show emotion, but don’t act like it’s the end of the world–summer vacation is about to start, after all! You’ll have plenty of chances to hang out outside of cheer, and if you’re leaving because of a move, there’s always social media to keep you connected and in the loop! You may not know when you’ll see your cheer BFFs again, but life has a funny way of bringing people back into your life over time. Just make sure to stay in touch, and everything will be okay.

3. Don’t forget about your coach. Leaving your team is one thing, leaving your coach is quite another. Sure, they’ve yelled at you at times, but they’ve also been your biggest fan at others. You’ve developed into the best person, cheerleader, and athlete you can be because of your coach, so make sure you acknowledge how much they mean to you when you say your team goodbyes. You might get another mentor or cheer role model, but staying in contact with your cheer coach can lead to many things, even a career in the future! Don’t burn this bridge, and do your due diligence to make your coach feel special.

4. Stay positive. Yes, this is an end of an era–but, that means new beginnings! Your next life and cheer chapter is ahead of you now, so make sure to be ready for anything. Go, seize the day, and congratulations on this major life transition!

How else can you say goodbye to your team? What has been your experience when it comes to switching or leaving teams? We want to know your story!