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The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

COLUMN: Lady Lancers’ first ever national cheer competition – a big jump for me, literally and figuratively

Image used with permission from Patrice France
The Lady Lancers – with sophomore Emily Kim in the front row fourth from the left – hold their second-place plaque, qualifying for nationals, from their first cheer competition at Agoura High School on Saturday, Jan. 13.

Transitioning from being an amateur in cheerleading to having participated in the first Sunny Hills cheer competition on Saturday, Jan. 13 was a big jump for me. I mean that figuratively and literally.

Many of my friends told me cheer is not a sport and assume all we do is “yell and smile,” but this activity requires far more dedication and diligence than others would expect. 

Spending countless hours stretching, practicing my motions, attempting to be sharper and remembering cheers and routines are examples that show just how much effort is required.

I tried out to be on the cheerleading squad in my freshman year, as my mom wanted me to find an extracurricular activity for college applications.

However, my thoughtless desire to impress my mom grew into a larger passion to represent my school and become better at what I do each day. 

When I first auditioned for the junior varsity squad with no cheer experience, the process was nerve-racking as we had to perform in front of current cheerleaders and show skills such as jumps, which I was not experienced in.

I anxiously waited for the email regarding my acceptance into the squad and when I saw it, I was extremely happy. I have since advanced as a sophomore to the varsity squad.

Finding out that we would compete for the first time was a complete shock and excitement as when I initially joined the squad, I thought we would only perform at assemblies and sports games.

When our coach Patrice France announced that she would be choosing members to compete, my fellow teammates and I were extremely thrilled yet nervous as this was a completely new concept to us.

Multiple thoughts crossed my mind. Will I be chosen to perform? What if I mess up the routine? I hope we can place first. 

Over the past weeks, our performances at games and assemblies were the deciding factor for whether we would get chosen.

The next months became tense since everyone was selected and focused on being extra clean – sharp movements – for the tournament after the routine was given to us.

I was automatically placed as a “flyer” mainly because of my height and weight. 

Going up into the air was terrifying at first because I had a fear of falling, but I started to grow a connection with members of my stunt group and was able to trust them.

It was challenging at first because I failed to keep up with the other stunt groups, and I felt like a burden to my team as my stunts kept falling and coming down.

Although these hardships made me grow tense and feel more nervous each day, I still strived to have an optimistic attitude.

During times I felt like giving up, I would remind myself of my favorite movie, “Bring It On: All or Nothing,” and the challenges that the main character, Britney, and her team had to go through to score first place in the competition.

With over 10 hours of practice each week, I pushed myself to keep training and reattempt my stunts until they were solid. 

Every day, my coach would remind us to put in our best effort and to remember that we would be judged based on how loud and sharp we can make our motions. 

Our coach would motivate us with videos of other school routines that placed first in our division and encouraged us to focus on their sharpness and cleanness so we can bring it to our routine.

It was unbelievable to think that months of practice went into a routine that was not even a mere three minutes since our daily practices became dedicated to this one, and we would run it repeatedly until it was ideal. 

On my way by school bus to Agoura Hills on Saturday, Jan. 13, I felt butterflies in my stomach and I could not stop jittering with my hands out of anxiety.

I continuously repeated the counts in my head but was interrupted by all the doubts and thoughts in my head. What if I fall from the air? What will happen if I mess up my motions?

When we arrived at around noon, we spent some time stretching and warming up our stunts and before we knew it, it was our turn to perform in the novice division against nine other schools at 1 p.m.. 

Cheerleaders, left and right, were picking at their nails and jittering with their fingers as everyone was nervous to perform.

I had to get my head in the routine and make sure to squeeze every muscle in my body by keeping my legs together and adding pressure to stay tight during my stunts. 

“You guys got this. Give it your best and have fun,” my coach said.

After the routine, I was proud of my performance but was disappointed because another group failed its stunt. 

We were all nervous to find out how we placed, but when the announcer called out our school revealing second place, everyone was shocked. (First place went to Paloma Valley High School.)

I saw some girls in my team even crying tears of happiness since it was great seeing our hard work paying off and being able to qualify for nationals. 

While watching my teammates get emotional, it made me feel euphoric, and I immediately thought of calling my mom to announce the news.

“Good job guys!” France said. “I am so proud of your hard work and you guys should all feel accomplished with yourselves.”

The pressure of competing was stressful, but I am glad to have helped set a legacy for SH cheer. 

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