Being a “cheerleader” means different things to different people. To some people, being a cheerleader means you have a sideline pass to every sporting event. To some people, it’s just an after school activity. To some people, it’s a way to hang out with friends and work together. All of these things are great, but for some people being a cheerleader means adopting a new family.
Growing up I played many different sports, but there is something unique about joining a cheerleading team. We go to school together, we eat together, we train together, we have sleepovers together, we win together and we lose together. We’re always together, which is probably why sometimes people on your team can seem like your annoying little sister who won’t leave you alone! But seriously, when you join a cheerleading team, you join a family.
Think about the idea of a “family” for a second. Families are always there for each other, they love one another, they trust each other, and they support each other. Doesn’t that sound a lot like your team? My team proved how much of a family we really were just two weekends ago at UCA’s College National Championships.
Caleb is one of our “family” members here at the University of Alabama. Unfortunately, Caleb’s father lost his fight with cancer the same Thursday that we left for nationals. Thankfully, we were all able to be there by his side to tell him how much we love him and give him more hugs than he could ever ask for. We packed his bag and sent him home with his family and we boarded the plane to Orlando. Leaving Caleb behind was one of the hardest things any of us had ever done. Not because we were thinking about cheerleading, but because we were thinking about leaving one of our “brothers” in his time of need. Caleb felt the very same way about leaving us.
On Thursday night, we were on our way to practice when Caleb called. He told our coach that he wanted to come to Orlando, but he couldn’t make it until Sunday morning-the day of finals. This meant that he would miss Thursday’s and Friday’s practice and the run through at the Milk House on Saturday. This meant that we would go five full days without doing parts of our routine and we wouldn’t be able to go full out until our last performance. Our coach, David, knew this was a big decision, so we took a vote. We looked around at each other and every single hand went up in favor of waiting on Caleb to come back. If he was willing to leave his family at home in their time of need to come be with his “family” in Orlando in theirs, then let’s do it!
I think this not only says a lot about Caleb and his character, but it also says a lot about our program at Alabama. We love each other, we celebrate each other’s successes and we support each other during our losses. It proves that our cheerleading team is more than just a team-we are family, and we would do anything for each other.
– Ryan Martin