Life has a funny way of flying by exactly when you want it to freeze forever. One minute we were cheering in the National Championship game, and the next we were headed straight to class and our final Nationals practice in Ohio.
Tuesday night’s practice felt all too familiar. As we set up our signs to run the routine, I recalled returning from the Sugar Bowl and basically needing a full day to get back into that “Nationals mindset.” When we huddled in the back we all had a reality check. We didn’t have a full day to get back to the reality of cheerleading; all we had was that moment, that day. Needless to say, we felt like a different team during our next routine.
Wednesday night the team had our final send off performance in front of friends, family, alumni and the general public. As our dance team and mascot showed off their routines, I was pacing in the back. Like any athlete could tell you, everyone has a different mental zone they get in before a big moment. Some competitors jump around, some pray, others keep their mind off the task. Personally, I pace. I reflect on the journey. I travel back in time to when I was a little girl and couldn’t imagine in my wildest dreams being where I am today. I close my eyes and watch my own personal story – the struggles, the hard work, the hours I put in and the triumphs. I do this each time before stepping onto the mat. It’s a reminder of how far I’ve come, how far our team has come and how ready we are for this moment.
Overall, our send off performance went smoothly. I barely slept that night and soon enough 4 a.m. rolled around and we were wheels up to Orlando, our fourth state in 15 days! We travel with the dance and mascot team, which always sets the stage for an entertaining trip. The mascot team is quite possibly one of the funniest groups of people I know, and they never fail to lighten the mood.
That night one of our seniors shared that one of her goals at the start of the year was to serve as a teacher to at least one team member. I can’t think of a more selfless goal. The desire to pass on your knowledge in hopes of improving the program’s future speaks volumes of one’s character. This is a quality I see in each of my teammates. Among other inspiring thoughts, Coach Sio spoke on dreamers and doers. She said that many people have dreams, and dreaming big is an important aspect of life. But some people never take action. Some people keep their dreams bottled up in their minds and never become doers. She complimented the team and said she’s proud to know that we are all doers. The time for just wishing has passed. Taking the steps to make your dreams a reality is what life is truly about.
Friday morning we loaded up the buses and headed over to practice at the HP Field House at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports. The room was crowded with other teams and the energy was buzzing. Before we stepped onto the mat, I shared a quote I found from a friend. “Your biggest challenge isn’t someone else. It’s the ache in your lungs and the burning in your legs and the voice inside you that yells can’t, but you don’t listen. You just push harder. And then you hear the voice whisper can. And you discover the person you thought you were is really no match for the one you really are.” We used the environment’s energy that afternoon and it showed in our routine. It wasn’t perfect, but it was by far our best showing as a team. Our spirits were high!
Later that night we returned to watch the Partner Stunt competition and our mascot Brutus compete in the Mascot division. The Mascot competition was packed with elaborate props and incredible energy. Brutus rocked out a Broadway themed skit – standing tuck and all! Later during awards, the placements kept dwindling and Brutus still hadn’t been announced. Soon it was down to the top two, and only a few minutes later Brutus was announced as the 2015 Mascot National Champion! The mascot team practically tackled him and we all ran onto the floor. It’s heart-warming to see all of their hard work pay off. I guess you can say it’s been quite the year for Ohio State thus far!
Tomorrow it’s our turn to take the mat; I don’t think our team could be more ready. Go Bucks!