10 years, countless hours, and multiple uniforms later - it's all coming to an end. The one thing that has provided me with the most support and challenged me in ways I could never have imagined. The one thing that has taught me more about myself than anything else. The one thing that has given me countless opportunities to do what I love.
I am forever thankful for the past ten years I've spent as a cheerleader. As I say farewell to my cheerleading career, I couldn't leave it without expressing my gratitude for all it's given to me.
First, to my coaches
Thank you for seeing in me what I couldn't see. Thank you for choosing me and for never giving up on me. Thank you for pushing me to be the best I could be on and off the mat. Thank you for teaching me how to better myself and those around me. Thank you for setting the example for me and my teammates. Thank you for having patience with us and instilling in us those leadership qualities that you yourself embodied so well. I am who I am today because of a select few individuals who trained me, coached me and taught me to love the sport of cheerleading. To them, I am forever thankful.
To my teammates
You have seen me at my best and at my worst and have loved me through it all. You have cried with me and celebrated with me. You have cared for me, challenged me, and caught me...literally. The countless friendships, millions of laughs, and many memories make all those hard days' worth it. When I look back on my cheerleading career I see hard work, passion, dedication and I see it on each one of your faces.
I see the silly chants and handshakes we do before we compete. I see the joy that we felt when we won the state championship our senior year of high school. I see the way we celebrated when our football team won the National Championship. I see the inside jokes that we think are funnier than they actually are. I see the way that we overcame adversity when it felt like nothing was going right for us. I see the love that we have for each other and this sport. You all are the ones who kept me going all these years and to you I am forever grateful.
To my family
Thank you for helping me pursue my dreams and cheering me on every step of the way. Thank you driving and even flying many miles to watch me do what I love. Thank you for sitting through numerous competitions, football games and yes, even doctor's appointments. It wasn't always fun or easy, but I'm forever thankful for the way you supported me through it all.
Finally, I am thankful for the experiences that wouldn't have been possible otherwise. The opportunities that I have been given to travel across the country, serve my community and represent my team have each been so incredible. From representing my team on college football's biggest stage down to the Bandshell in Daytona Beach - I have been so blessed to truly live out my dreams.
To those of you who aren't quite to the end of your cheerleading career, or maybe even are just starting it, savor every moment. Before you know it, 10 years will pass and all you'll have left are the sweet memories of the sport that changed your life forever.
By: Halie Manion