I took a deep breath as we entered the floor, smiling, waving, and tumbling into our starting positions. My heart pounded with a mixture of excitement, adrenaline, and fear as the music started.
Immediately, we all ran towards the platform, making a formation to catch Jade as she would flip into our arms. As we scrambled into position, I thought of how important this performance was for me. It wasn’t just my first year on the elite Shooting Stars cheerleading squad – it was my first year cheerleading, period. And also my first competition ever!
Jade flipped into our arms! We caught her, preparing to throw her up in the air as we turned around. Jade was a high school cheerleader, but the three top junior high cheerleaders got to compete with Jade, the captain of the high school team, at Luv2Cheer (the competition we were at). It was so crazy that I’d made it here, insane that I was performing this routine after a few weeks of cheer and a modest tumbling background…
But as we spun Jade around and lifted her up, all my thoughts melted away. I only focused one on thing: getting the flyer up in to the air.
And we hit perfectly! The crowd roared as we pulled Jade high above our heads, beaming. Jade threw her arms up in the air and smiled widely before we dismounted, placing her on the ground.
We raced into formation and stood with our arms at our sides and our feet parallel, which in cheerleading is called “clean”. I ran through the dance motions in my mind in the few counts we had before the music switched and we would begin our dance…
But suddenly, the beat dropped, and I didn’t have to think about it at all. I smoothly moved from one position to another, muscle memory and adrenaline taking over, as I made different smiley and sassy expressions!
The dance section ended, and Tenney and Alexandra dropped into a middle split while I ran forward and Jade stepped backwards, forming a “V” shape. I stood in a lunge in anticipation of the huge, crazy stunt we were about to do…
Tenney and Alexandra quickly stood up from their splits as I did a back walkover, landing in a bridge! All those years of once-a-week tumbling classes since I was little finally paid off.
I stood up into a handstand, feeling nervous and confident and shaky all at once. I knew what would happen next…and the stunt we were about to do was crazy difficult. If we could hit this, we would win the competiton almost automatically.
And we did it! Just in time, Alexandra and Tenney scrambled on to the platform in the nick of time for Jade to toss me on to her shoulders. Alexandra and Tenney held me up. I beamed with pride, holding my hands high in the air. We did it!
Tenney, Jade, and Alexandra lowered me on to the ground. As they ran to position, I did a spectacular front handspring! I could hear the crowd cheer as I did the impressive move – but I tried to block everything out. I had to focus on the routine…
I landed the tumbling section and slid into a split, while Jade and the other girls posed on top of the platform. The next move we were about to do was even crazier than the rest of this routine…and if we messed this up, we would have no chance at first. The first half had been perfect – and now we had to live up to it.
And we formed a pyramid with Tenney on top as Jade threw her hands up and lunged in preparation for the stunt…
And Jade sprung off the platform into a toe-touch…above Tenney and the pyramid! The crowd screamed, and the judges scribbled down impressed notes. But their faces remained impartial; was this all enough to beat some of the most experienced teams in the state?
Isabel Landed, and we stood up on the platform and held her high in our final formation. The music ended, and we headed off the stage. I was sweating like crazy, my muscles ached, and I should’ve felt exhausted, but I didn’t. Instead, I felt full of energy and couldn’t stop smiling long after we’d exited the floor. I know we’d done it.
Jade, our captain, held up our first place trophy high for the photographers. It hadn’t been easy to get here – I’d had to face haters, jealousy, trials, and injuries. But I couldn’t help feeling like I’d made it through it all.
I’d reached for the stars – and grabbed them. I was swinging from the stars, higher than the moon, on top of the world.
Hey guys! So this originally started out as a doll-stunting expirement, then a cheer-themed photoshoot, then a short photostory, and now it’s become a series! So yes, this is the first episode of Reaching for the Stars – but it starts with the end of the story. The following episodes will show how Lea got here, and all of the challenges she had to face! I’m super excited for this spontaneous photo series, and hopefully you guys are too!
Are you excited for this series? Anyone noticed the hidden label on the featured image? Have you ever done cheerleading? Which stunt was your favorite?
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