This road started last fall when Piper started junior high. Our school is huge and unless you are in a club, it’s a hard road to connect and fit in. Piper had asked several times to be on pep squad. With her dance schedule, it’s nearly impossible to do anything that meets in the evenings. But after reviewing the qualifications, we decided that Piper could use her absences allowed for dance and meet the number of games that she needed to attend for the season.
I took Piper to the first game and decided to come inside to watch. After her description, I felt pretty good about what Pep Squad involved, but I was anxious to see for myself. I sat over by a friend and chatted while keeping Piper in the corner of my eye. She cozied right up with her friends & chanted & cheered – she was in heaven. Toward the end of the game, the Pep Squad got to join the cheerleaders on the track to do some chants together. She was in heaven!
I think I knew that night that she was going to ask to try out for cheer. (My friend, also the mom of a serious dancer, even teased me about it. It was that obvious that Piper was having a ball.) Our junior high is double the size of the high school that I graduated from. Everyone needs a group to call home, and I was seeing Piper spending more time with the girls in pep squad.
Football season ended almost as quickly as it came and then basketball season arrived. I should preface by saying that we are basketball people. We watch college basketball on a weekly basis, so it was much more fun to be in Pep Squad for a game that you actually understood!
We once again used our absences and hit up exactly the number of required basketball games. Cheerleaders aren’t allowed on the court during the games, only during time out and halftime. So, it was a very different atmosphere then football, but still fun nonetheless.
As time for cheer tryouts came closer, Piper became more and more excited about the possibility of this new step. She started taking a weekly class that taught the girls how to tryout for cheer. To be honest, I had no idea that there was so much to know – or remember! How to spirit, tips for jumps, voice projection, wrist angles … it was a whole new world for us.
When the week of official tryout clinics actually arrived, Piper was well-prepared. There was a large group her age that were trying out – 27 girls. We knew from our informational meeting that they could only take 12 members max. We also realized that a handful of these 27 girls had been doing cheer as seriously in their life as Piper has been doing dance.
All of our district junior highs tryout on the same day. This allows the district to use judges that aren’t local (a very good thing). Every student must wear the same thing – white shirt, black shorts, no logos anywhere. The parents were not even allowed to come inside the building – a fact that I agreed with 100% until I had to use the restroom as badly I was about to bust!
Once the tryouts concluded, the girls were given a sealed letter containing their fate. The instructions were that your car needed to be off campus before you opened the letter, so we quickly drove to a business right across from the school.
Piper put together a vlog about the day. Watch and see how it went for her. (If you just want to see her reaction to the tryout, skip to the 8 minute mark!)
Needless to say, it was an emotional day for both of us. I was a nervous wreck and honestly, I have no idea why. I guess because I knew that she really wanted to have the experience and try something new. And, also, because I know that this year has had some significant low moments and it would be so great to see her light up. Boy, did she ever! I don’t think either of us will ever forget the joy that came with opening the envelope.
So, without further adieu, Piper went straight into the fitting for her uniform and all accessories. It was exciting and fun. The check will be written next week and practices start immediately. What seems real now will be VERY real this time next week.
The best part of this story is that Piper will be able to continue to train at a high level in dance. Every school has a different schedule and way that they do things, but our school is pretty compact with their practice and tumbling schedule. (Actually, much better than other schools by comparison.) Cheer was never meant to replace dance for Piper. It will be a different way to add conditioning into her routine, be involved in her school, dance and continue to compete! Thank you, Lord, for hearing our prayers and helping us through this semester of “new”!
I’m so excited for our next chapter. Fingers crossed that it’s a fun one!