My name is Sutton Hodges and for as long as I can remember I have had cheer shoes on my feet. I currently compete on an all-star cheerleading team at Cheer Extreme Raleigh. This gym has been my second home for the past fifteen years. Honestly, I cannot imagine my life without cheerleading. It has taught me so much more than how to tumble, stunt, and perform. It’s taught me so many lessons that I will carry with me throughout the rest of my life.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that nothing is ever given to you, you have to work for it. Obviously, some goals require more work than others, but achieving something that you’ve dreamed of is definitely worth it. Self-satisfaction can become contagious and it helps to push you to even bigger goals. If I land a new tumble skill or hit an extremely difficult new stunt, the thrill is exhilarating. I live for these small moments.
As the pandemic hit in 2020, we all learned a big lesson, don’t take anything for granted. I was lost without cheerleading, my friends, and those small moments of accomplishment. That loss really helped me to prioritize the important things in my life. After some soul searching, my new motto is “grind now, shine later.” I apply it inside the gym walls and outside the gym in my everyday life. As a sophomore in college, I apply this motto when studying for exams and preparing projects and presentations. I can thank cheerleading for helping me realize that if I work hard, success can be achieved and the rewards are so much bigger than jackets and medals.
Cheer has even helped me become a better person. I have learned to take risks and to step out of my comfort zone. It has taught me character traits like tenacity, resilience, and perseverance. I have learned how to create and maintain relationships with my teammates and my coaches. Some of these relationships will hopefully remain well into my adult life.
When I finally hang up my cheer shoes, I will miss it more than anything. It has given me so many highs and a few lows, but it will forever hold a special place in my heart. When looking back on this amazing 15-year journey, it is truly unbelievable how much I have gained and accomplished from cheerleading. Yes, I have medals, jackets, and rings that decorate my walls, but the friendships and memories are much bigger rewards for me. This once shy young girl is now ready to lead her team into our last couple of competitions of the season. I’m not sure how it will all turn out but you can believe one thing, my teammates and I have been grinding so that we can shine at The Cheerleading Worlds.
Sutton Hodges, Cheer Extreme SMOEX