I know, it seems pretty simple: Put on a uniform with a kicky skirt, do a few jumps, shout a few words, and you're a cheerleader, right?
Wrong. One thing I've learned through the five years my daughter has been involved with the Fayetteville-Manlius Pop Warner cheerleading program is that there is so much effort behind making a cheer routine look, well, effortless.
Her team's recent first place finish at a tournament in Hershey, PA, was the culmination of hours of tumbling classes, cheer practice and rehearsals. The routine was created by the Pop Warner coaching staff, with each individual girl's strengths in mind.
Practice was fun, but rigorous, which helps to teach the girls the importance of responsibility - if one girl is absent, the whole team suffers, as each is an integral part of the routine.
Teamwork and trust
Cassidy, a "flier" on the team, was hoisted in the air by her "bases," teammates designated to keep her aloft while she "flies." The role of base is, if anything, more important than that of a flier, as they are responsible for keeping her safe.
In order for Cassidy to do her job as flier, she has to have trust in her bases, and in order for me to be able to watch my little girl being brought high in the air, so do I. Over time, with experience, the girls were so steady with Cassidy that she was able to perform her role in the routine with a smile on her face and not a waver in her stance.
It is that kind of teamwork and trust, so rare and priceless nowadays, that is inherent in the Pop Warner program - and not just among the girls.
When Cassidy left for Hershey, she went without my husband and I. Her brother, Jacob, was receiving his first Holy Communion the next day, a milestone for our family and, unfortunately, an event she would not witness. (Again, in order for the team to function, every girl had her part, and that includes Cassidy as flier.)