Cheerleading: sport & way of life

By Staff Writer
April 2, 2009

Megan Pellegrino

Cheerleading is a sport I like to define as fun, thrilling and dangerous.

Many people think of the sport as a bunch of girls in skirts running around cheering for the guys, but for me, my life growing up being a cheerleader was not like that at all. I’ve experienced the wins, losses, trips to the hospital and the drama behind the scenes.

Since I was little, I was always into cheerleading, real competitive cheerleading. Starting in elementary school when I was in the fourth grade, one competition that brought me home a first place trophy made me want to excel more as an athlete in the gym as I got older.

Seeing how hard you can push yourself to lift girls, fly as high as you can before you hit that toe-touch and tumble until your face and the spring floor are your best friend.

I have seen the bloody spring floors at competitions where girls fell the wrong way and bones have come out of their skin. I competed with and against girls who have broken a bone during a routine in front of judges and kept on going until the music stopped. I’ve been in the emergency room when a girl twisted the wrong way out of a stunt and broke my nose.

The chipped teeth, black eyes, swollen faces and contusions. No joke. Cheerleading is one of the most dangerous sports out there.

Seeing how high a girl can be thrown in the air and to what limits you can tumble on that floor is something that tests out how hard you can go and how strong you can be.

I have done every type of cheerleading imangible from Catholic elementary school cheerleading to making varsity all four years of high school-for an all-girl school- to Penn State University cheerleading and now to all-star cheerleading.

The intense practices, gymnastic classes, conditioning and going to the gym everyday in between. Every year the requirements for making the team get tougher. The permission forms and who to call in case of injury or possible death forms get harder to sign knowing the stunts are harder and so is the tumbling combined.

How high can your jumps go? What tumbling do you have to make the team? Can you fly or base? Can you dance and chant so that an entire stadium can hear you as clear as crystal?

Cheerleading is not what people assume it to be. People don’t see the practices, the runs, exercise workouts to follow, the 250 pushups if we’re late or drop a girl. The precision and dedication that if a girl falls, it is not just one person’s fault-it’s the team’s.

All people see is the hair and makeup, the smiles of 15-30 girls and one hell of a performance.

Knowing where to put your hand or foot to make that stunt hit solid and knowing your flyer so well that when she goes up in the air you know exactly where she will go, and what to do to make sure she lands in your arms and not on the floor is something a cheerleader is trained to do. Everyone on that team puts their life in another person’s hand, literally.

Cheerleading is my life and it can show someone just how intense a sport can be: a two minute and 30 second routine that would blow someone’s mind.

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