I was a cheerleader. I cheered two years in high school, danced in community college, cheered semi-professionally and I even helped coach little league cheer for two years. But, that ain’t got nothin’ on competitive cheer.
Being the former know-it-all cheerleader that I was, I wanted my daughter to be as good as I was. Shoot, when I cheered, I could yell real loud, do a mean toe-touch, a killer round-off and a darn near flawless cheer dance. I decided sideline cheer would be perfect for Karmyn and I was ready to sign her up for the local little league cheer team. I knew she would love it, (and remember, I used to cheer and coach, so I could most certainly give her a few pointers and show her how it’s really done). I was super excited and was telling my friend I was going to sign Karmyn up for sideline cheer. My friend then told me if I really wanted Karm to cheer, I needed to put her in the competitive league.
Competitive cheer?! What in the world is that? I had NEVER heard of that type of cheer. So I went online, found the nearest competitive gym, then called and took her in to check it out.
I will never forget walking my tiny, six-year-old daughter into the cheer gym. She was super apprehensive about going, but I assured her it would be just fine. Not even ten minutes after being there, she was flying in a stunt. Meaning, two girls had a hold of her feet and had pushed her straight up into the sky! The look on her face was one of a person that had just seen a ghost. Me, being the poker-faced mom that I am, gave her the, “you can do it” thumbs up, when what I really wanted to do was start yelling, “she’s not ready! She’s only six!” But, I kept my composure and crapped my pants in silence.
After two hours of watching her practice, scared to death, guess what? I decided to sign her up! We became a part of the competitive cheer world, where it’s “bows over bros,” airbrushed abs on twelve-year-olds and oversized ponytails with one, to two cans of hairspray holding them perfectly in place; where one season of cheer costs as much as a nice car; where it don’t mean a thing if your uniform ain’t got that bling; where you weren’t just doing round-offs like I did as a cheerleader, you were doing round-offs that led into a back handspring and then back tuck. All those pointers that I thought I was going to give her… Haha! Yeah, right. I had nothing! I was just a fish out of water.
Cheer practice was intense. Karmyn’s first year, she practiced twice a week: one day for three hours and one day for two hours. My mother was appalled that I had my six-year-old practicing long hours twice a week on a school night. But, after I watched just a few practices, I really saw the potential in my daughter and how quickly she was becoming an asset to her team.
Within three months, Karmyn could do a running round-off and was a key base for her stunt group. Now, it was competition time! I was handed the competition schedule…
*the record scratches*
Whoa, whoa, whoa, I did NOT sign up for this! There was a competition every other week. For some of them she had to arrive at 6:00am, and she had to travel to Portland, TWICE. This meant I had to not only get her there, I was solely in charge of making sure she arrived at every competition in full makeup, with her uniform intact and ON TIME. Did I mention the competitions were all day?! Oh, heck no! I had just had my third baby, was trying to have somewhat of a life, and Marcus was gone every weekend playing football. I was going to be taking this on alone?
I was so angry at the cheer gym for tricking me into this type of a commitment. They should have warned me ahead of time that my social life was going to suffer! But, at this point, we were too far deep in time and in payments, so there was no turning back!
Begrudgingly, I was all in. The first competition was days away, and I had to stop whining about the loss of my weekend social life. It was time to pull it together and figure out how I was going to drive to Portland with my three kids… and survive.
My mom, my father-in-law, mother-in-law, and my kids all made the journey down to Portland for Karmyn’s first competition. The morning of her competition, I was nervous beyond belief. I was nervous for my daughter, because it was showtime for her! This was it; all the practicing and time spent had boiled down to this very moment. I wanted her to do her best, I wanted her to own the floor. I was also nervous that I was going to jack up her eyeliner and have her looking like she had a black eye on stage.
When Karmyn stepped out on the stage with her team and started to perform, I was blown away! She was an outstanding base for her stunt group; always there when they needed her, her round-offs were beautiful and she didn’t miss a beat during the dance. At that very moment, I fell in love with competitive cheer. I became “bout that cheer life.” Even my mother ate her own words from back when she was chastising me for being okay with my daughter practicing so many hours during the week. She told me how amazing Karmyn was. My mother said, “I guess I’m a cheer grandma now!”
Karmyn is now in her fourth season of competitive cheer. Cheer is a part of our family’s life and it has become second nature. We’ve traveled as far as Hawaii to compete. After Marcus retired, he jumped right in and became the ultimate cheer dad. He is at every competition, buys the shirts that say, “Cheer Dad” on them, and he wears them proudly! Many fathers don’t even come to the competitions, and the ones that do, look like they are one cheer performance away from scratching their eyeballs out… or else they are asleep with their eyes open. Don’t even mention a football Sunday. I’ll see some dads desperately trying to connect to wifi to check the score, or looking like they’ve lost their favorite toy because they’re missing the game! I’ve even seen some stretched across several chairs, asleep. But hey, at least they were there.
Let’s talk about Karmyn. She went from round-offs her first year, to now doing a side aerial, round-off back tuck in her fourth year. When Karmyn steps on a stage, she transforms. I honestly do not know who that kid is. When I say she performs, I mean, SHE PERFORMS! She serves facial expression, body movement and tumbling realness. I am just in awe of what my little nine-year-old has accomplished over the past few years. I have watched her work so hard to get where she is, and her hard work has paid off. I can’t wait to see what the cheer-future holds for her.
Competitive cheer is a whole other world and I am elated to live in it! I am that cheer mom that is there every step of the way, screaming my head off for my daughter. I am her number one cheerleader!