Your cheerleader is so talented. They’ve made you so proud. Ever since they joined cheer, you’ve seen an improvement in their self-confidence, teamwork abilities, attitude, and overall charisma; cheerleading has boosted it all! You might’ve been skeptical at first, especially about the cost, but now you see that it’s all paying off. However, there’s one thing that can curb your excitement, and it happens to roll around the same time every year–tryouts. You are aware that your cheerleader’s spot on the team isn’t guaranteed, and although they’ve worked hard all season long at practices and performances, that doesn’t mean anything once they walk in the tryout door. It’s anyone’s game. Sure, you’re focusing on your cheerleader’s current season as much as you can, but as you creep closer to Tryout Day, you start realizing it’s becoming more and more permanently placed on the front of your mind. Here are the six stages of how cheer parents feel on the road to tryouts… in GIFs.

1. Acceptance.

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OK, tryouts have been at the end of the cheer calendar since Day One of the current season. There’s no getting around them, and your cheerleader has made such great strides in cheer that there’s simply no way they’re going to throw in their pom-poms now–at least not without a fight! You accept whatever happens, happens.

2. Depression.

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As the days creep closer to the proverbial (and quite literal) Judgment Day, you sink into unexplained sorrow. What if your cheerleader doesn’t make it?? How can you possibly comfort them after they’ve become so accustomed to the cheer life? Why did you ever allow them to join such a competitive sport?? You struggle to enjoy the last remaining cheer events of the season, knowing that the end is so near.

3. Bargaining.

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You spend the day reassuring yourself that everything will work out, yet every evening is spent praying that your child makes the team. You almost want to play dirty and do something like bribe the coach for a sure-bet spot, but then you tell yourself that your child has enough talent that you don’t need to turn to extremes… but what if the other cheer moms bribe and blackmail? You wouldn’t put it past Sharon either… that Sharon…

4. Anger.

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WHY IS CHEERLEADING SET UP THIS WAY? ALL OTHER SPORTS RECRUIT PLAYERS UNTIL THEY AGE OUT. YOU DON’T JUST MAKE VARSITY, THEN DROP TO JV–ONCE YOU’RE THERE, YOU’RE THERE. AAAAAAAAH, WHY WOULD THEY DO THIS TO CHILDREN?!? THIS IS PROBABLY ALL SHARON'S FAULT.

5. Denial.

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No. These emotions over tryouts are unnecessary; we can cross this bridge when we get to it the day of. Your cheerleader might not even care if they get waitlisted, there’s always next year!

6. Shock.

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There are two ways tryouts end, and both roads lead to shock: shock that your prayers, pleads, and premonitions actually worked, or shock and utter disbelief that your child didn’t make the team after all. Either way, the news hits you like a ton of bricks, and you find that simple autonomic responses in your body go haywire, like breathing or blinking. Hopefully, this reaction is because your cheerleader’s hard work paid off, and they secured a spot for next year. And, if it’s the unfortunate alternative, go easy on the team coach: they might have had to make a tough decision regarding your cheerleader that you don’t know about. Remember to stay strong for your cheerleader no matter the outcome, and congratulate them on how far they’ve come regardless!

What are other feelings cheer parents experience on the road to tryouts? Can you relate? Tell us in the comments!