I began my cheerleading career when I was only three years old. I was on a team through my school’s youth club and continued this through sixth grade. I tried out for my middle school team in seventh grade and made it. I was thrilled!

 There was one problem. I was shy. Incredibly shy. Even though I loved cheerleading with all my heart, it was tough to be in front of so many people. As I got used to games and performances, I began to break out of my shell. The girls on my team and the love I had acquired for cheerleading helped me become a more outgoing person. I became more comfortable in my own skin.

 The years went on and I continued cheerleading all through middle and high school. Later on, I picked up competitive cheer. It continued to prove to me that cheer was what I wanted to do. I had come a long way from the shy seventh grader afraid to cheer her first football game.

 I have cheerleading and all of my supportive coaches and teammates to thank for the person I am today. They motivated me to be the best version of myself that I could possibly be. With hours and hours of time and hard work on the mat and the field, I’ve learned so many lessons on how to not just be a cheerleader, but a friend, student and a teammate.

— Olivia Marshall