I’m from the great state of South Carolina, where cheerleading rules the land. Almost every girl I went to high school with was a cheerleader at some point in their lives, and if they weren’t, they knew our cheers and could do them along with us. One thing about South Carolina cheerleading is we were not allowed to travel out of state to compete. Our season actually ended with the state championship in November. You can imagine once I made Clemson and was given the opportunity to compete at the College National Championship in Florida, it was a huge adjustment.
Backspotting double full baskets and other collegiate stunts was something I couldn’t prepare for in high school. As a high school cheerleader, I always watched different universities do their high flying baskets and breathe taking pyramids, not realizing that one day I would be doing the same exact thing. One thing to keep in mind is trust. Your coach will not put you in a position that they did not think you were ready for, so listen to their advice and go for it! Everyone had to learn at some point, so when making the adjustment to collegiate stunts and pyramids, it’s okay to be a little nervous in the beginning. Know you are on the squad for a reason, and your coaches and teammates have faith in you.
As superficial as it may sound, the uniform and appearance of competing at college nationals was another huge adjustment for me. Being able to let my hair down below my shoulders and wearing more athletic uniforms was a huge change! I felt older and a sense of pride overwhelmed me when the word “Clemson” was adorned across my chest in orange and purple.
Finally, the friendships you make with your teammates are unrivaled by any other experience. You work out with them before the sun comes up, you practice together more than you like to admit, and chances are, your roommates throughout college will probably be cheerleaders. It’s an unbreakable bond, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I know I am still saying inside jokes from nationals a year ago, and they never get old.
College tryouts are right around the corner! Be sure you are preparing physically and mentally for the big jump. The road to a college team may be long and difficult, but looking back on it, I wouldn’t change a thing.