On the first cheer practice back after the winter break, I attempted to do a round-off back tuck, landed it, butttt I forgot to stand up… I felt an instant pain in my left ankle and a loud ‘POP’ noise was heard across the gym. I fell to the floor in an instant, screaming in pain. I thought I wouldn’t be able to walk for months. The first emotion I felt (after the pain) was sadness. Not because I knew I would be on crutches for awhile, but because I thought I would be out for the rest of the cheer season. This wouldn’t have been such a huge deal to me if I were in first year of university…but this was my last term. This meant that I would be retiring from cheerleading after I was done school. Now you might think, why not just join a cheerleading team thats not collegiate? I’ll save that story for another day.
Being a part of the routine didn’t come natural to me. I was not a natural cheerleader, and I certainly was not the best on the team. Rewind to a year ago, I was one of the alternates (aka substitute, aka bench warmer) of the team. At the time, I was also powerlifting and injured my back a lot. This didn’t help considering that I am quite tall for a flyer, and that my core strength was weak. This made my coach think that I was unreliable, and I totally understood that. It only took me about 15 injuries to figure that out! I decided it was time. Time to start taking cheerleading seriously and to put my ALL into it.
So I changed my mindset.
I ate, slept, and breathed cheerleading. I was determined and motivated to get a spot on the floor. Nothing was going to stop me. Not even my vacation! I had planned a 3 week trip to Europe during that time, and this was a little bit of a speed bump for me. 3 weeks is a long time for improvement, and I was worried that the other flyers were going to take my spot on the floor. There was a lot of competition to be a flyer when I was on the team.
But, I told myself, I’m going to come back BETTER than I left.
I went to the gym everyday when I was on vacation. I practiced jumps, strengthened my core, and stretched stretched stretched! I even found a cheer team in Germany that I was able to practice with! Sure enough, I noticed progress in my flexibility and jumps and I came back to Vancouver feeling great.
Overcoming my injury was difficult. I could not jump, nor stretch, nor run fast. All of which are needed in cheerleading. For months, I was very emotional and at one point I wanted to give up and quit cheer. Why was I so emotional? Because I worked my ass off during the summer and I deserved a spot on the floor! I was not going to spend my last term on the team watching from the sidelines. Instead of sulking in my frustration, this motivated me to work even harder.
I saw it as an opportunity to challenge my body and my mind to test my limits.
I thought to myself, If I can’t jump as high using my left ankle, then I’ll just jump harder using my right foot. If I can’t pull my stretches as much, then I’ll just stretch more.
Sure enough, I was back on the floor, preparing for competition. I was still injured during that time and it hurt whenever I jumped, but I stopped being a little b**** and reminded myself how much I wanted this.
It amazes me today how the saying ‘mind over matter’ is actually true.
All the hard work paid off at competition when we made history winning a full paid bid to world’s! This has been a really great learning experience for me and now I honestly feel like I can do anything I put my mind to.