2010 quickly closed and 2011 is here! I came back to the NCA Corporate Office after a much needed holiday break to semi trucks full of banners, megaphone trophies and National Champion jackets as NCA prepared for their Junior and Senior High School National Championship that is held in Dallas, TX this weekend. Everyone here in Dallas had something to do and somewhere to be, to make sure that the event this weekend will be a huge success.
Amongst the hustle and bustle of everything that was happening, I stopped to remember what it was like when I was in High School and had to prepare for Nationals. Practice every day after school, packing to go on an airplane 1500 miles away from home with some of my best friends and most importantly getting mentally prepared for the competition! We already knew that we were the best team in our area, but now we were going to be faced with the toughest competition of the season. The best of the best would be there and they were working just as hard to achieve the goal of National Champions! I could picture myself in the coveted NCA jacket and knew that if we won, I would wear that jacket ALL DAY, EVERYDAY! C’mon, we lived in New York and clearly it was going to be cold for the next few months!
From the time we left the LaGuardia Airport in New York City, all we could talk about was this “jacket”. Once we arrived to the Dallas Convention Center, there were tons of cheerleaders who were wearing the “jacket”. The “jacket” was everywhere, but what did that mean? Only one thing to me, they’ve won before and were ready to win again. But how were we going to keep up with them? This was our FIRST time to Nationals!
We had to focus on what we came here to do. Our coach had always told us from the time that we decided to go to Dallas, “This is just like practice, only people are watching you. Do what you have practiced and no matter what place you receive, I will be happy with your effort!” I knew that we were ready, but would our performance be good enough to win the “jacket”?
After 2 solid performances, it was time to find out if our hard work would turn into a warm, winter “jacket” to flaunt all the way home to New York. The answer was no. No banner, no megaphone trophy and NO “jacket”, but somehow, someway, we weren’t upset. We had accomplished something that no other team from our school had before. We stepped out of our comfort zone and competed against the best. We saw the best teams in the country and through it all we had FUN!
So this weekend, while teams are competing for the “jacket”, I’ll remember this experience. I hope to see teams who had just as a rewarding experience as I did, even if the “jacket’ doesn’t accompany it!