My shining freshman moment
Editor's note: This is the piece, written by Bridget McFadden, that was published in Teen Ink's October magazine.
Bright lights flicker on and off. Music is blaring from the speakers. A man's voice comes on.
"Up next is Jim Thorpe High School. Now let's hear it for Lebanon Cedars!"
The crowd went crazy. My heart pounds as loud as a gong. My stomach feels like I'm about to revisit everything I ate that day. My hands are suddenly drenched in sweat and shaking. My teammates notice.
"You know this routine better than anyone. You're my favorite cheerleader, and I know you're going to do great," Dave says as he gives me a huge hug.
The music comes to an end as the previous squad spirits off. We line up behind a divider, making sure the crowd can't see us. I peek at the crowd. Then I hear the words I have been anticipating and dreading all day. "In the varsity co-ed division, let's hear it for Jim Thorpe Olympians."
I run out, trying to look as spirited as I can. We get into formation. A bright light is shining in my face. I can't see anything except my teammates. Perfect.
This is it.
The music starts.
BOOM, BOOM ... "Y'all know me. Y'all know me ..."
Turk throws me through the air. I fly and land safely in Justin's arms. Not for long though. Now my feet are in Justin's hands. I feel myself rising until his arms are fully extended.
High V. Smile. Breathe. Dismount. Run to new formation. Superman.
Now I'm running into the arms of Brandon, Brooke, and Turk. I am fully extended again into a lib.
Leg down. Bend knee. High V to crowd. Leg back down. Extend leg to the back. Arms in a T. Back on the ground. Run!
We begin chanting "Back again. The best of the best. We are the Olympians, from JTHS. Yes!"
"When I Grow Up" begins. Time for the jump portion.
Front hurdler. Side hurdler. Pike. Motions. Toe touch. Dance.
"Solja Boy" begins playing. From behind me, Avery and Michelle are thrown into basket tosses. I step to the side. This time, Andrea, Victoria, Lauren, and I are front and center. We dance our butts off. A new song begins.
I turn and see everyone sprinting to the next formation: pyramid. Maxine, Steven, and Molly are my bases. They throw me into a prep. I grab Michelle's arms and help her land in a straddle.
Extension. High V. Prep.
The stunt begins to move. I turn toward Michelle's lib and face Kyle.
Something is not right. The other side is not up.
I notice Arielle hurtling toward the back of the room. NO! I have both Michelle's arms. She is leaning forward, pushing all her weight on me. What is she doing? I force her arms straight, and she sticks the stunt! Dismount.
Now it is time for the gymnastics portion. Michelle and Kyle flip and twirl down the aisle of cheerleaders, as Avery does the same through the middle. We dance while they land their final spin. Time for my favorite part my shining moment in the routine the dance. I turn, so my back is facing the crowd. I see flashes of my teammates running to their next positions.
"Sweet Dreams" begins playing. Everyone around me dances into a new formation. I turn my head and give the girls next to me a satisfied look. I extend my arm and Steven grabs it and pulls me in. I twirl around him and plop down on his knee. What a rush. I leap up and hug everyone who is within reach. We spirit off.
Our squad sits down on the competition floor to await the results. The announcer's voice blasts through the speakers one last time. We wait patiently while he names other schools and the awards they have won. I can barely focus on what he is saying.
"First place in the varsity co-ed division is Jim Thorpe High School!"
Everyone screams and leaps off the mat. Dave grabs me and throws me in the air. Avery and Molly walk up and accept our prize.
We shout out the bus windows the whole ride back to the hotel.