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Keira Cook

As cheesy as it may sound, my biggest dream has always been becoming a high school varsity cheerleader. I feel incredibly lucky to have been involved in the cheer programs every year since seventh grade. Now as a senior, it is so crazy for me to think about the amazing things I’ve experienced throughout the last six years in cheer.

I’ve been a dancer since I was two years old, so performing has always been one of the biggest parts of my life and has brought me happiness. In general, dancing and performing in front of a crowd has always been something I’ve enjoyed more than anything else, but the joy I get from performing has exponentially grown from doing so each week with my team. There’s something very special about going out onto the football field or basketball court, doing something so nerve-wracking with such an amazing group of girls. Knowing we have each other to lean on in times of high emotion, intense stress and adrenaline rushes is a feeling I’ll always feel so fortunate to have.

In my opinion, the best part about sports at the school is the people you meet and the friends you make. As a big introvert, it is difficult for me to be outgoing and friendly with people I don’t know well. I have been able to meet many amazing girls over the years from different grades that I would have otherwise never gotten the chance to know. We have grown so close, which would have been impossible had we not been on the cheer team together.

One of the many other aspects I love most about being on cheer is how close I’ve grown to our coaches. They are just two of the best people. They lead the team each year with such grace, support and love, making us all feel comfortable each week. I genuinely feel so connected to them, especially because I’ve known them both since I was 12 years old. They’ve played such huge roles in such an important phase of my life. They have helped me grow so much as a dancer, performer and person, more than they could know. I’ve been so incredibly lucky to have had them as such great role models throughout the last six years and I know that even after I graduate and move on from this team, they will always be there to support me and be there to help with anything that is going on.

Cheer has given me so much and I’ve been able to learn so many new things about myself through it. In seventh grade, my confidence was at an all-time low in dance and performing. I had just left a competitive dance team that I competed on for two years, where I was constantly judged and compared to other dancers, which destroyed my confidence as a dancer and person. After joining cheer in seventh grade and meeting one of our two varsity coaches, I started to feel a lot more confident in myself and my dancing. From then on, it has only gotten better.

Starting cheer when I joined the school in seventh grade has been a huge blessing in other ways too. It is really great for me to have cheer as a constant each year, and it’s been such a grounding experience. No matter what I may be going through or feeling or what the school or the world might be going through, I’ve been able to have cheer as something solid. It is something I can really rely on every single year, which is more remarkable than I even realize sometimes.

I feel so lucky to have found so much confidence, love and overall happiness in my time as a cheerleader. Thinking about having to say goodbye to this team and the environment of cheer at the school will be really difficult and challenging for me. I know I’ve grown so much as a person and teammate and have made numerous memories that will last a lifetime. I will be eternally grateful for the coaches and girls on this team.