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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