By John Waller
Heart racing, loud music with the pulsing, uptempo bass and the sound of girls nervously chatting with one another about hair, makeup and other seemingly useless subjects. These are the sights and feelings associated with a cheerleading competition.
Having played guitar and sung at local venues, I was no stranger to the stage, yet performing this routine on stage was a whole different ball game. Just waiting backstage in the dingy, industrial looking convention center, with a slight view of the other competing teams, it was a gut-wrenching feeling to know that within a matter of minutes, I’d be up there, hoping to not forget any part of the routine or even worse, drop someone. All of these thoughts were going through my head until I heard it over the intercom. We were next.
“It really is over”, I thought to myself. Nothing had been dropped, no one had been out of time, it was a nearly perfect performance.
We were all pointed in the direction of a neon star for us to run through with an unnecessary amount of fog machines, inducing several coughs from the team as we ran out. As we got into position, instead of ignoring the crowd to avoid getting nervous, I looked around to see exactly how large this crowd really was. It came to be a huge relief when I find that the lights that are pointed straight at us in order to illuminate us actually blinded us from seeing the crowd. This was just the confidence booster that I needed until the inevitable 808 bass drop sent a shock wave through my body and made my heart sink yet again. The music started and everyone was in motion, almost like robots.
It seemed to be only thirty seconds into the routine when it was over. I heard cheering and everyone was jumping up and down with excitement as they waved to the crowd. “It really is over”, I thought to myself. Nothing had been dropped, no one had been out of time, it was a nearly perfect performance. We were ushered off of the stage and were led down to the floor that the crowd was on. Getting compliments from total strangers and having strange old people shake my hands with the adrenaline still pumping through my body was all a very surreal experience for me. Then I remembered. We were being judged by scrutinous judges who watched for any small mistake or sloppiness during the routine. Then before we knew it, we were called up on stage yet again for the awards ceremony.
The lights and music were blaring as the cheesy announcer voice called out the winners for every division. Then came our division, making everyone immediately quiet and still. The team that went before us got the second place award, meaning that we had either gotten first or didn’t place at all. Then in the blink of an eye, our entire team was jumping up and down from excitement. We had won.
This is an experience that was unlike any other. It totally opened my eyes to a whole other world that I never knew about before. It showed me the dark sides of cheerleading, and gave me the confidence to go back on stage no matter what the size of the crowd is, and stay completely calm at the same time.
John Waller is a senior at McCallie School.