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Personal Narrative: Essay About Cheerleading - With A Free Essay Review
Like most athletes, I looked forward to competition day. Rather it was state, nationals or just a football game. I love cheering, no matter the time of year. Yes, I consider myself an athlete. Cheerleading takes sweat and determination just like any other sport out there. The only difference is that at a cheer competition, judges have the final say. We cant just pin a man or score a few touchdowns to win. We have to put it all on the mat for three minutes, hit everything solid and even then the outcome is never predictable.
Cheerleading is not the most important thing in my life, not even close, but it is a big part of it. I have so much to stay about the sport that I could probably write a novel. Cheerleading is not just standing on the sidelines and cheering. It goes beyond the expectations of what people think cheerleading is. A competition routine consists of a squad performing tumbling, jumping, dancing, stunting skills and a cheer for three minutes on a competition mat while being completely flawless. Each tumbling pass and stunt is judged on difficulty as well as technique. Dance, cheer motions and jumps are judged on technique and sharpness. The more difficult a pass or stunt the more points awarded. The more difficult of a routine is not always the sharpest. It takes hours and hours every week of practice to perfect a three-minute routine.
It all started when I was ten years old when my parents enrolled me in my first gymnastics class. I did not attend the class for long because it was a little time consuming and I still wanted to play soccer. Soon after, I started participating in All-star cheer. I went to a couple
gyms and was really blessed to compete as many times as I did. My Junior High squad was a lot
different than all-star. I wasnt quite ready to cheer at football and basketball games. I was still in competition mode. In Junior High, my squad was talented enough to win Nationals every single year.
Freshman year, I was asked to compete with the High School for the State competition. Back then, ninth grade wasnt apart of High School. It was really tough practicing for Junior High nationals and High School state at the same time! All the hard work paid off when I won a state and national championship that year.
I realized freshman year that I was going to have to decide between soccer and cheer. I love playing soccer as much as I love cheering. It was a very tough decision for me. I went back and forth for several weeks. I decided to stay with cheer. I like winning, and the high school I would be going to had been number one in the state for several years. I still played in some games with my team when they needed me. I didnt have to completely give it up. Now, I just have to play for fun and not for the purpose of becoming elite.
Unfortunately, shortly after sophomore year tryouts, I fractured my back. I thought cheerleading was no longer an option after that. My high school coach still treated me as part of the team and let me go to camp with them. Six months later, I decided to give cheering another whirl. It hurt worse than when I fractured it. Months of physical therapy and my back slowly became stronger. My back brace is hideous, but worth it.
To this day, my primary doctor still tells me to quit cheering. I just cant do it! I have been to six different orthopedic surgeons and all but one told me to have surgery. I sided with the little man and opted out of surgery. I thought being fifteen years old was too young to have life-changing back surgery and truthfully five years later I still think I am too young. I keep revisiting the option of surgery. Many of the doctors told me I could possibly be in a wheel chair by age seventeen. I am twenty now and still kicking. Hurting my back and sitting out for a long time made me realize how much I truly loved cheer.
I have to say I had the ultimate senior year. I was named Captain of my squad. It was also my fifth year to receive NCA All-American at camp and I was named an All-Region cheerleader. It was my third time to win state and my second for nationals. I also was chosen for the senior awards for cheerleading. We had many ups and downs on that squad, but I was very blessed to be a part of it. Looking back on high school, I realize I would not be the same cheerleader or even person I am today if it wasnt for my amazing cheer coach.
Just days after graduation Ashley Parham, a girl I had cheered with for a very long time, was picking up her little brother from the field house. She collided with our cheer coach and the airbag deployed and spit metal pieces towards her. A few of the pieces severed her neck. She was announced dead shortly after getting to the hospital. Ashley wasnt just a team mate; she was like a sister to me. I know how much she loved cheerleading and I can honestly say I think of her every time I am doing anything cheer related. I have a special place for her in my heart when I am cheering.
During senior year, I got an amazing offer from Cameron University for cheerleading. I choose Cameron cheer because the scholarship they were offering was incredible and I loved the cheer coach. Cameron University did not have football, so instead we cheered for volleyball and basketball. Getting ready for college nationals is a lot harder than it was getting ready for high school nationals. Early morning practices were the devil to me freshman year. It all paid off on the mat though. Oh, and a free trip to Daytona, Florida never hurt anybody!
My cheerleading coach decided to quit and that is what made me have to choose another college. I definitely did it the unorthodox way. I wrote down six colleges on a piece of paper and gave them a number. Only five of them had a cheerleading program, the other one simply just had my minor and major. I rolled a die and it landed on five and that is what number Washburn was under.
Lets just say coming to Washburn University was one of the hardest decisions I have made in my life. I thought the squad was going to be super talented and preparing for nationals when I joined them in the fall. Needless to say, I was wrong. They were not preparing for nationals and that wasnt even an option. They had some talent, but nothing like I was used to. I hate to say this, but my high school team would be able to cheer circles around them. One thing, I loved was how we worked as a team and improved the skill level of the entire squad.
Here I am still at Washburn where competition is now an option. This past summer, I had foot surgery to pin a bone in place. I am slowly working towards the skills I once had. It is harder than I thought it was going to be, but really worth it considering this year could be it for me. We have a lot of skill on the squad this year. I cant wait for all of us to start working together towards a common goal. We won first place at camp, most improved award, and even a small bid to nationals. I cant wait to see what this year holds.
Cheerleading is not what it used to be. We dont just stand around and cheer on our team. Cheerleading is not just looking pretty in a uniform and making a good impression. It is way more than anything, anybody could ever imagine. Being an athlete, who has played multiple sports and wasnt bad at any of them I will still argue that cheerleading is one of the hardest, most exciting and dangerous sports there is. More injuries happen in cheerleading than on the football field. Just take me for instance, fractured back, multiple concussions, broken nose, multiple knee hyperextensions, bruises on every single body part, pulled muscles, and other problems that I do not even want to talk about. High competive cheerleading takes a huge toll on a body.
Cheerleaders take their role very serious whether it is on a competition mat or cheering on their teams to victory. I wish everybody would take cheerleading more seriously. This is possibly my last year cheering and I am not ready to give it up yet. I have put my heart and soul into the sport and it is not going to be easy to say good-bye. Physically, I am not sure my body can take it anymore. I am not ready to face the music. It is important to remember that everything comes to an end. It is not something to look down upon, think of it like ending a chapter of your so-called book of life.
Cheerleading has made me the person I am today. Through the many hours of dedication and perseverance, I have learned that my mind, body and soul can withstand almost anything. Many other athletes say that cheerleading is not a sport, well I dare any of them to be on a mat for three minutes and be extraordinary tumbling, high flying, kicking, dancing, tough as nail cheerleaders. Each experience on a competition mat has made me a strong competitor. I love the challenge cheerleading presents to me. The strength I have gained be it body or mind, I know I can and will achieve my goals as a student, as an athlete and as a person.
On the one hand, for a personal narrative, your essay has a very narrow focus. You say next to nothing about your life outside cheerleading. Even in an essay entitled "My Life as a Cheerleader," some version of which title your essay ought to probably have, I would expect to learn at least a little about the rest of your life and perhaps, in particular, your relationships. I think you mention your parents once, and then only as a more less abstract entity that delivers you to the gym. The first we hear of any friend is when you are telling us of the death of Ashley. But if you are going to broaden your essay to give a fuller picture of your life, you need to figure out how to add more detail without further fragmenting the story as a story.
So, on the other hand, you should be aware that even as a story focused on your life as a cheerleader, your story seems meandering and episodic. Its only organizing principle is chronology, and so the story takes us from one bit of information to another, later bit of information, until you reach the present. That's not so much a story as list of bits of information.
If you object to this characterization, I imagine it would be because you have, after all, made an argument here about the athletic character of cheerleading. You make reference to the status of the sport at the outset and return to it at the end. At one point, you even use yourself as an example of the toll that cheerleading practised as a serious sport can take. I would suggest that there you have indeed the seeds of a story. But for the most part, the different parts of your story are just treated as different parts. You don't seem to write with a specific purpose in mind. You seem to write rather with the question "what happened next?" in mind. Look at the story you tell of your friend's death. There's no reason for it being where it is in the essay except for the fact that that's what happened next. You don't anticipate that story anywhere in your essay, and you don't refer to it again after mentioning it. In other words, it's not an integral part of your story. You may protest that it was an important event in your life, so you have to mention it in the story of your life. But the question of whether it was an important event in your life is irrelevant. What matters here is whether it is an important element in your story. You don't make it an important event.
Let's imagine that you take that paragraph and put it at the beginning of your essay. Let's imagine then that you mention a little later in the story (otherwise the same story you are telling in your current essay) the first time you met Ashley. Let's imagine that you mention a little later, when you're talking about your injury, how Ashley encouraged you. Or you could mention how you celebrated together after winning some competition. Or you could mention how it was different competing in college without Ashley. You see my point. Suddenly the story of Ashley is central to the story of your life. You have another thread running through your story to hold it together as a story. They do this in movies all the time, for instance. They don't just tell a story about some hero taking out the bad guys. The hero also is going through a difficult divorce, or trying to overcome his alcohol addiction, or struggling with some inner demons. The movie is really about the hero's struggle. Taking out the bad guys is just stuff that happens along the way.
I'm not suggesting that you necessarily change your essay so that it looks like the one imagined in the previous paragraph. You could tell your story in any number of ways. That was just one example of how you might create a thread to tie the various parts of your story together. You could instead, for instance, make your story much more obviously a story about overcoming your injury or injuries. In that case, you might begin not with the death of your friend, but with a description of the time you fractured your back. At the moment, your story about your injury is just something that happens in a list of things that happen (except, as I say, in that one moment when you relate it your purpose of proving that cheering is serious business).
Finally, you might consider checking out a few published biographies (perhaps of athletes) to get an idea of how life stories are constructed. You should especially do this if you want to develop your story into something more ambitious, which you could well do. The story deserves it.
Submitted by: amytaber
DePalma1 “Competitive cheerleaders are more like extreme athletes that are daredevil adrenaline junkies who often perform exhausted or hurt and love their sport with an addict’s devotion. Unlike football players or even gymnasts, cheerleaders have to put up with lack of respect from their peers and frequent mockery” (Torgovnick 12). Cheerleading is one of the most underrated sports in modern day. The competitions, practices, and tumbling involved as well as the stunting are activities children enjoy and find not only challenging but fun. Being involved with a team is just a wonderful experience, as it teaches an individual so much about how to deal with fellow athletes. Therefore, cheerleading is definitely a team sport; one person would not be able to perform, compete, or stunt without the team. The dynamics of a team are intense in any sport as one must have not only their own skill to consider and enhance, but also are interested in the final product of a competitive performance. Cheerleading is a great sport, but unfortunately has its share of injuries. The skill needed to be a competitive cheerleader is not fully recognized, and it is such an injustice as cheerleaders also suffer, as do other athletes in almost any other sport, with significant injuries. Over the years, the number of injuries due to cheerleading has increased. This may be due to the fact that because cheer is not considered a sport by many and school cheer is considered an after-school club, it is allowed to be run by a coach or leader without the experience needed. This has the potential of more cheerleaders sustaining injuries because their instructors do not have the proper coaching experience. Cheer should be seen as a sport rather than just a recreational activity, and it would then become a safer sport. Again, as cheerleading is not looked at as a sport, it does not get the recognition it deserves.