Sports teach you all kinds of lessons. You learn how to
throw a ball. You learn how to shoot a basket, or score a goal. In my case, I
learned how to catch a flyer so that she wouldn’t get hurt. But, there is one
lesson that I learned through cheerleading that has stuck with me my entire
life. It had nothing to do with how to get higher jumps, or how to throw a
basket toss. Instead, the quality of being a team player is what has sat with
me throughout my life, and I can attribute that to being a cheerleader.
Whether it’s in my career, in my relationships, or maintaining my friendships,
teamwork definitely is a quality that I learned from cheerleading.
I will never forget my senior year of high school: it was the day before my 18th
birthday, and we had a practice right before our Senior Night of basketball
season. There was a lot going on. Earlier that week, we had gotten our
mid-semester grades, and a teammate had failed off the team. Scrambling before
our biggest basketball game of the season, and just a few days before our state
competition, my coach began moving team members around, trying to fill in the
spot we had just lost.
My stunt group–who had been working together since summer practices–got picked
apart. Some teammates became front spots for other groups, and I had been
placed as a back spot to one of the weaker groups on the team. While my
teammates were doing advanced stunt sequences, starting with tick ups and
ending with twist downs, the extent of our skills was a solid liberty.
I went home from practice upset, feeling overlooked and not needed. It was my
senior year, and in my eyes, all that was important was being in the center
stunt group so that I could do the hardest skills on the team. I explained to
my brother–who had zero cheer experience–about what a terrible night I had, and
I told him that he just couldn’t understand. But, he did understand, and what
he said was harsh but true: in a team sport, it’s not about what’s best for
each player; instead it’s what’s best for the team. Definitely a good lesson to
learn my first day of being an ‘adult’.
As I got older and began coaching myself, I started my season with this message
to my teams: you are not here as a cheerleader, but as a team of athletes, and
you are only as good as the lowest jumper on the team. Motivate and push each
other to make each other better, for your team as a whole! You don’t get a
score sheet at the end of a competition that says Jumps -2 (but that one girl in
the front, you get a 7). You get one score as a team, so it doesn’t matter how
good one person is.
Being a team player is a quality you have to have for your entire life. Whether
it is in sports, doing a task you don’t necessarily want to at work, or helping
out a friend in a time of need, always remember the time you stepped into a
stunt group you didn’t want to for the sake of the team as a whole.
Do you think there are more important lessons you learn from cheerleading than teamwork? Tell us what you think in the comments!