***image1***Brightly colored uniforms and matching ribbons tied up in curled ponytails distinguish who is who. Hair spray fogs part the gym as squads begin to warm up starting with the smallest divisions leading to the largest. After warm-ups, hearts race − it’s time.
Each squad spirits out onto the blue mat, performs their three-minute routine to show off all of their teams’ talent. At the end, you either win or learn from the experience to better yourselves for next year.
I have attended the European Cheerleading competition for Ramstein American High School for four years. Every year, the competition for that first-place plaque increases tremendously.
Cheerleading is not an easy sport. It requires time, dedication, sweat, perseverance and heart. Our squad knew what it would take to win this year, and we knew we had the talent and a complex routine that would still allow us to show originality and diversity.
As I stepped on that mat before hundreds of people, my heart pounded wildly. It was my last year; we had to take it.
When performing your adrenaline rush pumps, you feed off the crowd’s reaction. I remember the music starting − “Can’t touch this” and counting 1, 2, 3, 4. I saw my teammates landing their passes and we were off to stunting. Being thrown up and down in the air, all I could do was smile, and show off what we had. As our crazy, fun dance began the crowd went mad. We ran to the final pyramid and threw a kick full basket, ending in a hitch screaming “Royals!”
Wow, we did it! Our three-minute show of all we had worked on the entire year. We took it − first place! All our long hours of hard work paid off.
Every last squad in that gym, all 28, would tell you that they had the same feelings, whether they won or not. It’s the feeling of anxiousness, worry, relief and pure excitement.
As our squad said to each other before stepping on the mat, “Eyes are on us, now let’s rock this.”
(Holly Bellamy is a cheerleader from the Ramstein cheerleading squad that took first place in the Department of Defense Dependents Schools European Cheerleading Championships held Saturday at the Mannheim Sports Arena. Second place went to Heidelberg and third place went to Kaiserslautern.)