Thursday, February 21, 2013

An Amazing Weekend for my Cheerleader

Anyone who talked to me last week probably heard me whine about the upcoming cheer competition.  I admit I was dreading it - a huge crowd (100,000 participants in a 3 MILLION square foot venue), a meeting time of 8 am downtown and an expected release time of 2 pm - all for a 2 minute 44 second performance each of the two days - so basically I was giving up my weekend for Cate's cheerleading.  Poor Me???  I kept thinking - why do all these parents travel across the country and give up their time for their kids sports, I just didn't get it.

So come Saturday morning I roused Cate out of bed earlier than she normally gets up for school and got her dressed in her cheerleading uniform.  We made the long trek into the city, found a parking spot then ventured through the cold wind into another world known as Cheersport.  This competition put on by Cheersport is touted as the worlds largest National Cheerleading & Dance Championship with over 900 teams competing from all over the country.  Just walking in the door was overwhelming - young girls of all ages, everywhere, in all varieties of uniforms but all made up with perfect hair.  It took us over 30 minutes to get from the door closest to our parking lot to the group meeting spot.  I would have been worried Cate wouldn't make the trek but she so distracted by looking at all the girls I don't think she even noticed the length of the walk.  Once we found out team, we waited for quite a while as I attempted to put make up on Cate - she was compliant but anyone who knows me will agree it is not a skill I use very often. 

Cate & her Buddy Megan
Even though the moms had forewarned me I was still not ready when Cate went off without me.  I had been drilling the "big rule" for the previous 24 hours since I learned that parents were not allowed in the warm up area - "do no leave Megan for any reason".  I'll be I'd said it 50 times and we'd gotten to the point where Cate was sighing and saying "mommy it is in my brain", whenever I asked her to verbalize it again.  It worked though - she didn't get lost and as far as I know Megan didn't spend too much time chasing her!

So as anxious as it made me, off went my not-so-little girl.  For the next hour and a half, I had no view of her as she and her team practiced in the warm up area.  After a little while the parents filtered down into the competition area from our more or less quiet waiting spot.  OMG - no other way to put it - it was enormous - a cavernous room with 5 huge stages separated by dividers, each with a stadium size video TV, concessions, photo review computers and thousands upon thousands of spectators and cheerleaders.  It was of course loud and chaotic but also strangely energizing.  By the time our team was "on deck" I was so nervous and excited you'd have thought we were at the Olympics.  For the performance the team's supporters get to stand in front of the stage in a gated off area.  It was so amazing to see all the parents, family, and even a GA Tech cheer squad standing behind me cheering their hearts out.  The kids did great, Cate made it up to the top of the formation and did the whole cheer/dance without a hitch.  She even surprised me with a new move in front of the second formation where she did a heel stretch while standing on her buddy's leg.  Even though noise & loud arenas can upset her sometimes, when she is performing she gets in a zone and not even this thunderously loud venue slowed her down.  We were too far below the stage and the buddy's were kneeling in front so pictures were pretty much impossible.  This is the best I can do but at least it shows the immense stage.   You can barely see Cate's head over the coach - this was the heel stretch pose.

Cate after performance (her bow didn't survive sommersaults)

Cate & Ashlynn

Eliza, Ashlynn & Cate
Afterwards she was bursting with excitement and very proud of the cheersport blanket all the girls were given.  She chattered all the way home the first day and at bedtime could barely keep her eyes open.  Sunday we did it all over again but added daddy & Lucy as spectators. 

Cate & Lucy playing while we are waiting day 2.

Cate with her Buddy Megan& Coach Taylor

playing around while waiting but this is exactly how Cate looked in the actually formation!  So straight & tall!!

We ended up placing 11 our of 15 in our division but it didn't even matter.  Cheersport gave every special needs participant a "national champions" letterman's jacket to go with their medals.  Cate was over the moon.   So maybe I'm a convert - I can now see traveling to experience this with my kid.  The competition was fun, exciting, and I was as proud as I have ever been in my life of my awesome girl.

The last picture is a worn out Cate on day 2, but our day was not yet done.  Cate & I proceeded from the cheer competition & awards to the airport a couple hours later to catch a flight to Florida (which is why it took me so long to get this post up).  That lucky girl got to spend the week swimming and visiting with her Grandma & Grandpa.  Ric is going back to get her today!!!

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