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When I was three years old, I went to one of my cousin's cheer competitions to watch her perform and from the second I walked into the arena I fell in love with cheer. I loved the atmosphere, people, the skills, the hard work, and most of all how cool it looked when they performed. After that competition I told my mom “I wanna do that.”
Soon after I turned four, my parents signed me up for Capital Cheer. I was on a “showteam” which is a cheer team for little kids where you learn a routine and compete, but it’s mainly for show not to compete against other teams. My parents also put me in gymnastics as well. But after doing both for a year, I had to pick one because they both conflicted with each other too much. After much debate with my five year old self, I picked to just do cheer. I picked cheer over gymnastics because in cheer it is all based on teamwork and in gymnastics it is almost solely individual. I have always had more fun working with a team and creating more friends.
At the age of six, I was able to move up from a showteam to an actual competition team. I can still remember my team and how much fun I had with them. But the most important thing that happened during this time was my coach. She was an amazing person and has taught me so much in life. She taught me how to be serious and have fun with the people around me at the same time. I cheered at Capital Cheer till the age of ten. It was sad day for me when I left Capital because everyone there was so friendly and nice, and it generally felt like my second home.
The next gym I went to was Cheer Station, and I started out in level three. This was my first year at this level and it was very nerve racking, but the coaches really helped me out and made me feel comfortable there. One coach that I will never forget is Johnoson. He saw so much potential in me and really pushed me to be the best cheerleader I could be. He always believed in me even when I didn’t. During this time I was taking privates with him, and I just remember during the toughest of moments, he always knew what to say when I was scared and nervous. He really impacted how I cheered.
After two years of cheerleading at Cheer Station, I hit a rough patch in my cheer career. I didn't know if cheerleading was something I really wanted to do because it just wasn't fun anymore. So I quit for about seven months and tried softball. But at every softball practice and game all I could think about is cheer and how much I missed it. So right after softball season was over I quickly went back to Cheer Station and tried out for their prep team which was like a competition team but it had fewer competitions and practices. When I was trying out, we were at the tumbling section, and I threw a roundoff backhandspring backtuck, and as I'm landing my pass, I hear on the other side of the gym, “Is that Delaney?” It was my old Coach Johnson. At that moment, I ran over and hugged him, and I knew cheer is what I was meant to do. A rush of happiness spread through my body.
In seventh grade, I tried out for my middle school cheer team, and when I made it, I decided to do only school cheer and not both, because I couldn't fit both into my schedule. After that first year of middle school, I decided I wanted to try both, but unfortunately I couldn't pick Cheer Station because it was just too far away of a commute. One day I was practicing with my middle school cheer team at Texas Allstar Cheer (TAC) Gym when I decided to try out for the All Star Cheer team. That year with the All Star Cheer team was really the first time I had stepped up and became a leader and really showed my team what I had to bring to the table. All that work had paid off because at our banquet, at the end of the year, I was awarded MVP of the team.
The next year with TAC, I was moved up from a level 3 to a level 4. This was a very difficult adjustment because the skills needed were a lot harder than the ones I was used to. But I didn't let that stop me, in fact, I started working harder than ever. Unfortunately, I had hit another bump in the road. While I was working on all the new skills I needed to be on level four, I was constantly landing on my knees, and after a certain number of times, my right knee was swollen and bruised. It hurt so much to walk on my right knee. A month later, my mom took me to the doctor who said I needed to stay off of it for a month. I had to wear a hard brace on my knee where I couldn't move my knee at all and get around on crutches. After the month, my knee hadn't healed, so I went to a physical therapist. My physical therapist told me I had jammed my knee cap. After months of having to sit out or be limited to what I could do, I was finally well enough to start cheering again. This injury taught me the importance of being committed to a sport. Even though I wasn't able to do anything, I still went to every practice and game.
My sophomore year of high school, I had made my school varsity cheer team. This was an amazing experience for me. While doing high school cheer, I was still doing TAC. During a standing back tuck, I had landed on my right knee again and my injury flared back up. This time I was referred to a knee specialist who discovered that I have Patellofemoral Stress Syndrome, which means my knee cap is not in its right groove it's suppose to be in. And once again, I was out from cheer again and back on crutches. After months of physical therapy and constant visits to my knee specialist, I had finally got it under control. But the only way to fix it fully is surgery. I decided that surgery wasn't the best option for me. This second injury really taught me how to be tough and to push through and never give up. I brought this aspect to cheer. This year (my senior year) I tried out and made captain of the varsity cheer team. What I really want to emphasize this year to my teammates is how working together and never giving up on one another really gets you far, in not only cheer but in life.