In midair I second guess my sanity. I fall. My knees are bruised, but I keep going. “Five, six, seven, eight,” my coach yells again with even more determination. I clap, and the sound echoes throughout the gym. Again I fall. My coach does not yell at me, but I can sense her disappointment; after all, I am disappointed too.
A standing back tuck – the ultimate skill in cheerleading. Imagine a gymnast standing with both feet on the floor, and then, suddenly, her body does a three hundred and sixty rotation, backwards. Sounds difficult? It is. For some girls, I mean those that have been gymnasts their entire lives, it seems almost natural for them to be flipping around. For me, on the other hand, it is much more difficult. Perhaps it is the mental fear more than my capabilities that literally lands me short and causes me to land flat on my face. I knew I possessed the talent for such a skill, but subconsciously I was terrified. I was afraid to fail.
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The practice almost ended in tears because of the overwhelming frustration. I admit that I felt like quitting. I did not want to let myself down nor my teammates, but I was discouraged by my efforts. The idea of giving up was nagging me. Every time I fell, there was an internal war in me to retreat or to go forward. My body may have wanted to call it quits, but I knew it was never an option. I could accept falling, but I could not accept walking away from something I had put so many hours and much energy into, so I pushed myself to practice outside of cheer. As I practiced, I realized that my mistakes were inevitable. I could not master the skill, if I did not know how to do it, or better yet, how not to.
It is six thirty in the morning and, truthfully, I have never been a morning person. I am convinced that my body is in shock from the jerking movements; the abuse. Sure, I am up before the rising sun, attempting what some people might call impossible, but I tell myself, “If it was easy, everybody could do it.”
“Five, six, seven, eight,” she says rhythmically. My body springs into motion, and my two feet land on the floor. The feeling of accomplishment transcends my body. The prior defeats mean nothing because I have succeeded!