the final banquet

Last night my final Stingray banquet will be one I remember for the rest of my life. I spent the last 7 years with the greatest program in the world and I wouldn’t be who I am without it. I’m so thankful everyone who helped me get to where I am today. Over these years, I learned how to be a friend to those who needed me most. I’ve learned to look for others in places I’ve never been before. I’ve learned how to lead a team through a hard part and be someone my teammates can look up too. I’ve worked hard with my videos and grew each time. I met coaches who have impacted my life in a million ways I could never fully describe. I was given crazy nicknames from Brandon and Wendy gave me the middle name Elizabeth. I was taught math lessons from Kyle, Roger and Scott. Deonte taught me to be nice even when I didn’t want too, Caurie taught me about life and also how to wear makeup. Scott East always made me laugh and Casey never made fun of me too much. Thanks for owning the greatest cheerleading gym in the country, we all love you Casey. Tiffany reminded me to keep going even when it hurt so bad. The office staff never failed to greet me when I walked in and a hug when I needed it most. Kyle I will miss you so much, but I am only a phone call away thank you for believing in me. Roger, you have given me endless opportunities and you have encouraged me to be the best I could possibly be. I love you and I am so thankful for you. Robyn you’ve made my big sis feel loved for so many years and I could never thank you enough. Chris smiled and hugged me when I was holding the tears back. Cat gave me hope. Bird lead the gym into pulling it together for the other teams. Paul always made me smile and made sure we kept our gymnastic skills up. Brett made sure our nails and hair were perfect. Ashley kept the gym going and never gave up on anyone. Jackson came when I first made Orange and is always so sweet when I see him. Katie pushes the minis and youth kids and is always someone I have looked up too. King isn’t always around but he pushed me to be an athlete and I loved being around him. I will always remember Aaron running up to me at WSF 2014 with tears in his eyes hugging me. Charlie and Oscar came to rays ready to work and their passion showed to everyone in the gym. Blake is always there no matter what and is working late hours behind the scene. Justin never misses out on doing the best choreography and he always cared about me and my life and how I was outside of cheerleading. Malik’s passion shows through the program and I was lucky to compete with him and see how he led Steel at Champions League in 2014. Lane never passed an opportunity to help with your math homework. Judy never gave up on anyone, ever. I was lucky to coach with Rupert on a half year team and I was always so happy to see him every Tuesday and Thursday. Jordan pushed through for his girls every practice and watching him coach my sister and have her love the sport makes me extremely grateful. Kayla, my forever friend and biggest Orange fan, I love you. Dale was here for a quick second from Australia and I loved getting to be around you. Joy always made the greatest bows. Robyn and G I love you both. Cassie you have raised the greatest children and coached the greatest teams. Taylor was on smoke when I started and he never failed to impress any of us whether he was cheering or coaching. Shakeem you always make everyone feel like a someone. David you’re always in the gym working for everyone I love that. Patrick you make the greatest music. Period. Neil you’re always taking pictures and I appreciate you doing that so we have the memories forever. Heather you’re so incredible. Andy you never gave up on your stunt class girls and they love you. Matt you moved here and created the coed team with Roger and you’re so incredible. Julius thanks for always teaching me how to be better. Ashlyn you are an incredible teammate and an amazing coach. Carly you never give up on your girls and you how me a million reasons to keep going everyday. You are my biggest role model and I hope one day I can be half as great as you are.I have learned so much from Stingrays and I could go on forever. Thank you to my mom and dad for believing in me and showing me that no matter what happens it will be okay and to my sisters thanks for hugging me when I was over the top and when I sat on the baseball field and cried. I won’t forget this chapter. Im so thankful for each part of it.

I hope you did it all right. I hope you took it all in. I hope you still have the chance. I hope you cherish every last moment. I hope in the end you smile and you know that you did it. I hope you make every last moment count and enjoy each time you take the floor because you never know when your last time truly is. I hope you learned more from All-Star Cheerleading than the most simple rules. I hope you also learned cheerleading is more than a sport.
once a ray, always a ray // oc4l

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the end of an era // Worlds 2016

One more time.

You have 2 times left. 5 minutes on the mat. That’s all.

10 years ago you started this journey and practices never ended.

Until yesterday, your last standing tuck in the gym. Your last performance. Your last time.

You have sacrificed everything for a dream that only you can see.

You spend hours upon hours working to get a skill.

You have fallen on your face more times than not, but you got up every time.

You have trusted your bases and you made your flyer feel confident.

You listened to your coaches.

You put your heart and soul on the mat.

You did everything to be the best athlete.

You worked harder every day and you never gave up.

You went full out over and over until it was right.

You showed yourself and your team that you are not mentally weak.

You learned a million lessons and you tried your best.

You put in the work.

You did all you could in the gym.

Now you travel to Orlando.

ESPN Wide World of Sports.

Prelims.

Finals.

The end of an era.

Make it count.

 

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The Final Practice

All good things come to an end, but are you truly ready for your time to be done forever. Being a senior has it’s perks you get to leave school early and do fun things like senior skip day and run around during the day, but it also has its lows, you have your senior night for school sports and you come to the day like today where your sport has its last actual practice of the season and for you forever. For the past 10 years I have been an athlete on a cheerleading team sometimes the same team sometimes different teams, but over the years I learned so much about myself and I’ve grown as a person.

For the past 7 years I have been apart of The Stingray Allstars. Stingrays has been the greatest place for me and my family, we were welcomed in with open arms and we were treated like family on our first day. Scott East had never seen me tumble and I had a torn ligament in my ankle with a boot on and he wanted me on his youth level 4 team, Yellow. I fell in love on the spot.

Not only did I fall in love with the team, I fell in love with cheerleading as a whole. I love every second of wearing the uniform and representing the greatest gym in the world. I love being a part of something so much bigger than myself. I love being a part of a team and meeting new people. I love meeting people around the country. I love the rush of adrenaline when you walk upon the stage and thousands are screaming for you.

There is so much to love about every second of it. I was lucky enough to be a part of Stingray Allstars Orange… Orange may have so much history, but behind the history lies the legacy and all the athletes before me. 3 years ago, I was lucky enough to make Orange. I never in a million years thought I would and I was young.. I was 15 when I made the team.

Before I made the team I looked up to the girls on the team , for example when I was 11, McKenzie Rutan stopped her tumbling class to ask me about my day and how I was doing I remember standing on the tumble track with the mat over it and being shocked that THE McKenzie Rutan was talking to me and also being so genuine and nice. Little did I know I’d backspot her 4 years later. Maeghen McCutchen always helped me with my standing tuck and she would stop anything to talk to me. I wanted to take pictures just like her when I was little. Often times I’d catch myself staring off into Orange’s practice hoping one day I could be like them. I learned all their musics and knew the motions. Hailey Bednar was always someone I looked up too and I got to backspot her on Spice before she made Orange and she was always doing something great for the gym and the community, I always looked up to that. Erica Levy, Stephanie Carlquist, Emily Peecher, Taylor Watson, Cat Haley, and the list could go on and on.. I looked up to these girls in and out of the gym.

In 2014, I won The Cheerleading Worlds. I can’t describe that feeling it was better than anything I’ve could have ever imagined. I have hit a few incredible routines that I will remember for the rest of my life. I am coached by the greatest cheerleading coach in the world, Roger Schonder you are hands down the most incredible mentor and coach I could ask for. I was lucky enough to be a part of Orange legacy and I will take it with me in my life forever. Tonight marks my last official practice as an Orange girl and our showcase is Wednesday before the 2016 Cheerleading Worlds and the end of my journey.

Thank you to Stingrays and Orange for making me the person I am today.

For all you Orangies and future Orangies, enjoy every single second. It goes by in the blink of an eye. (I know it seems like it’s forever away now) I hope you remember what it’s like to be a part of the greatest legacy in Allstar Cheerleading. Please hold on to the people you love for the longest you can. And last but not least keep the legacy alive. SYS, Faith and Big Hugs.

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The final NCA

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Looking back at my past 8 years at NCA. You’d say 1-7 was a failure. But, I’d say the opposite.

I remember competing my first time 8 years ago, in 2009 in the junior level 4 division. NCA wasn’t as big as it is today, so I competed day one in the arena on a level four team. This year I was not at The Stingray Allstars. As we headed into day two on floor A we hit a routine, but unfortunately we ended up last place. Year number two was my first year at Stingrays and I was on Yellow, youth level 4. We were a strong team, we went undefeated except losing NCA. It was extremely close, but we still lost. Still not easy to be so close and not take home the jackets. Year three, I was on Spice and we were restricted 5. We won. Spice won big. This team brought the fight and showed the world that restricted 5 deserved to be a division. My next year I was on Platinum Junior 4, We did not do as well as we had hoped, but NCA brought the fight into the team to finish out the rest of the year strong. The next year I was back on Spice again and it was time to show the world who we really are, we might not have won, but we learned what it was like to truly enjoy a team and enjoy the routine each time on the floor. Next year I made the team of my dreams, Orange, we had just changed divisions and we were in Large Senior. We fought hard all season switching things in and out and it was defiantly a learning experience. We might have lost NCA, but we came back stronger for UCA and finished the year out with a World Championship. The following year, I was on Orange again and we competed at NCA. Things were not as we had hoped they’d be, we finished 4th.

Day 1, a stunt fall, not a “solid” routine and .9 holding you behind first place. You know you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Walking into the convention center with a little fire and something to prove. Warmups move along fast and things are going well. Confidence was not an issue today. Backstage the whole team is yelling and pumped up to put on a show. I remember walking on the floor with full confidence and having the biggest smile on my face. It’s about time to really nail an Orange routine. I remember looking to my opening basket saying “come on, we can do this.” Moving through the routine, everyone sticks their standing tumbling, we point to the orange section and the crowd is screaming. Double up: hit!! the crowd screams. The stunts are solid. We finished off the stunt with a double down and the crowd is roaring. The jumps are hyperextended and performed like we had done a million times in practice. The two mans are on time and Amber and Madi start out running tumbling strong, Lakyn picks up with a one and a half to double and from there on everything is together and we are all screaming. Angel comes out of the right corner ready to prove to the world she can do this and sticks her pass in a double and the crowd is jumping and we have never heard them scream like this. Moving to the baskets and pyramid we are smiling and truly enjoying what we are doing. Counting and taking things one step at a time we make it to the last picture of the pyramid. There it is, a zero deduction routine from The Orange Rays!!!!! A routine you haven’t seen in a while. In the dance, we are crying and hitting each motion on count. “THAT’S HOW YOU CRUSH IT.” Finishing with tears and falling on the floor everyone in the arena could tell Orange had their heart and soul out on the floor and that’s how we crushed it.

Sometimes the result isn’t what you had hoped, but in the end… You grew as a team, you did it, you did everything you could. A true “hit” routine like that was something you can’t truly describe you just had to feel it. Here’s to 8 years later and 1 NCA jacket, but more memories than I could even imagine. Each upset in the past led me to the final routine in the Arena, Sunday, February 21st, 2016 at 4:04 p.m. with Orange. I would never change that routine for anything.

To all the other Orange seniors, the rest of the team and our coaches, what a way to go out in finals at NCA. That feeling on the floor was better than any placement we could have received.

I wish you could love something as much as I love this team. Orange is more than I could imagine and I am so grateful to represent the Stingray Allstars every single day.

So thanks NCA, for the memories and the one routine I will truly never forget.

1-7 never looked so great.

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before you step into the arena

Remember this is just like practice. With that being said you’re more than prepared. You have nothing to lose, but everything to gain. Your coach wouldn’t put you on the floor unprepared and you are here because you are truly the best of the best. Control your emotions and truly enjoy each moment. You only take the stage so many time so make sure this time is perfect.

Stay calm. Your mom isn’t the reason your hair wont’t curl or your eyelashes won’t stick, don’t yell at her. Staying calm will lesson the stress of your whole team as well. The calmer you are the better you will do. Do what you normally do. Stick to your normal routine. You don’t have to do more. 

Walking in. Meet your team and stay focused on the goal. Know that no matter what your team is your family and you have to work together to accomplish the goal. Be ready to go. Make sure you eat something and listen to your favorite music playlist. Fix your hair and makeup. Enjoy the time with your teammates. 

Warmups. Stay focused on you. Tie your shoes. Take your jewelry off and make sure your hair is tight. Focus on each detail and each stunt that goes in the air should be crisp and clean. Smile big and hit your tumbling. Help your teammates out. 

Backstage. Do your team rituals. Stay calm. You have done it a million times there’s no reason to be nervous. Hug your teammates. Hold their hands tight. Say your prayer or sing your song. Be confident. Remember to breathe. 

Next up. Take the floor. Hit each corner. Enjoy the crowd. Hear the music. Stare at the lights. Smile big. This is your moment and you are ready. Get through the routine and Enjoy every single second. 
Remember: you can do anything in 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

 

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When it is all over I hope you

I hope you take it all in. Every last second. I hope each practice was enough for you. I hope every smile on all of your coaches faces were enough. Because one day you will be too old to do it again. I hope you learned every lesson and you grew stronger from each mistake. I hope All-Star Cheerleading showed you how to be strong when nothing seemed right. I hope every time you busted your standing tuck you got up a little tougher and that pushed you to be better in the long run. I hope you learn that you are only competing against yourself and your teammates are like your family. I hope you listened to every life talk your coach gave you and also applied it to your life outside of cheerleading. I hope you thanked your parents for allowing you to compete in a sport so expensive and so prestigious.

I hope you took it all seriously. I hope you really learned from every practice and no matter if you cried or smiled after each routine you got better. I hope you remember the wonderful girl who had your name on a bow supporting you at worlds. I hope that one time you snapped your ankle you got better and you did your tumbling again. I hope you worked so hard to make the team of your dreams. I hope you proved everyone wrong. I hope you savored the moment you won your first Jamfest or the time you won The Cheerleading Worlds. I hope you get off the floor in the Milkhouse or the baseball field, the hardfloor of McEachern High School, B4 in the Georgia World Congress Center, the Arena at NCA, or the raised stage at the International Convention Center and you are smiling ear to ear. I hope you remember every word your teammate says. I hope you took the conditioning seriously and you hit your routine more times than not.

I hope that tiny cheerleader runs up to you and hugs you every time they see you. I hope you took a million pictures. I hope you remember what it’s like to be on the best team in the world. I hope you understand truly what it’s like to be a part of a legacy. Something so much bigger than yourself. I hope you did it for everyone before you. I hope you took pride in your program, but I hope you were also humble. I hope you listened to your coach when he said “when you lose say nothing and when you win say less.” I hope you stay close to your teammates even when you’re long gone. I hope you stay close to the girl who started cheering with you 10 years ago. I hope you know you can call your coach and he will answer at 3 in the morning. I hope you also know that one teammate older or younger has gone through exactly what you’re going through and they will talk to you through it all.

I hope you learned to be the bigger person. I hope you made everyone feel like a someone. I hope you were smart on social media. I hope you stood up for what you believed in. I hope you clapped for the team who won the competition you wanted to, in return you were respectful to the team you beat. I hope you learned that cheerleading is all about your team and being in a high level division on a high profile team everyone is around the same level. With that being said it is always up to you and your team to do your own job and stay focused. Because it truly is anyone’s game. I hope you enjoyed the butterflies backstage before you performed in front of thousands.

I hope you grew as a person and also a hair and makeup artist. I hope you learned how to apply false eyelashes (preferably lavender lashes) and I hope you learned how to curl and tease your hair even though you competed with a braid or a small poof and a straight pony. I hope you lost all the glitter while sweating. I hope you got the best red lipstick and strongest hairspray. I hope you remember the coach who helped you tie your nfinitys when you were too young to do it yourself and I hope you helped the next tiny who was crying in the bathroom because they couldn’t find their mom.

I hope you did it all right. I hope you took it all in. I hope you still have the chance. I hope you cherish every last moment. I hope in the end you smile and you know that you did it. I hope you make every last moment count and enjoy each time you take the floor because you never know when your last time truly is. I hope you learned more from All-Star Cheerleading than the most simple rules. I hope you also learned cheerleading is more than a sport.

 

 

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