I leave in a few short hours for what will be my last competition as a cheerleading coach. As my fourth year, or what I refer to as my "senior year" comes to a close a wave of various emotions is right around the corner.
This past year has been a test to say the least. It's been the most frustrating, overwhelming, heartbreaking, passion draining year I've faced. I've looked at this year as the Big Guy telling me it should be my last and that I should close this chapter. All the various struggles this year each serve as their own reiteration of the message, "Don't Come Back." However, no matter how difficult this year was, I know without a doubt I'll miss this.
I've dedicated four years of my life to the New Berlin Eisenhower cheerleading program. I've spent hours upon hours (upon even more hours) in a high school cafeteria. I've woken up before 7 more Saturday mornings than I care to count. And I'm fairly certain I'm one of few 25 year olds who can say I've logged more than 20+ hours on school buses w/ over 40 high school girls (without it being illegal or highly judged). And even though I've had to defend my sanity in doing so, I wouldn't have traded a second of it.
As I reminded my girls from time to time (on the bad days), I didn't do it for the money. (I was paid what worked out to be less than $1.00/hour). And as much as I'd like to think being the coach of the State Champion Cheerleading Squad brings high levels of respect, I don't do it for the glory either. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The moments that are truly heart warming and rewarding may be slightly fewer and farther between than the frustrating ones, but when they do happen, it makes every one of those tough nights worth it.
I was fortunate enough to stumble upon one of the most successful programs in the state and am so thankful such a fortunate accident occurred. And in being a part of it -I was able to coach two squads to a runner-up finish at State and one squad to a first place State Championship finish. As I leave for my last state competition, I'm happy to see the end of the season (again, it was a rough one), and I'm excited to see how the weekend will end. But most of all, I'm thankful I have been able to experience such a dedicated group of young women working together to accomplish their goals. I'm happy I was able to learn so many of life's important lessons through working with over 100 high school girls. Lessons that have already applied in so many different areas of my life. I'm glad I have been able to affect so many lives and have my life affected by so many others.
I welcome with open arms the spare time, the clearer calendar and the reduced level of drama. But it's not without a little sadness I realize it's all nearing the end.
This picture gives me little chills every time...it's literally seconds after they announced a state championship win. It completely shows exactly why all those hours of work are worth it.