When Everything Changed

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I slowly looked around, detached from reality. The news hit me like a formidable black train. Silence coated the room filled of anxious yet unusually quiet cheerleaders like a heavy snow on the mountain peaks from where we came from. Every familiar face I could find grew cold and stern. All hopes of a national title flew out of the window before the judges could even mutter the two words that brought our world crashing down. "Illegal stunts.” Nine months of sweat and tears, 4 years of commitment, all brought down in a matter of moments. Less than ten minutes before my final national high school cheerleading competition and all the work my team and I put into our flawless routine no longer mattered. We had ten minutes to recreate a near-impossible routine and preform it for over 600 people. How could our coaches not know our routine was filled with illegal stunts? More importantly why did we travel 1,997 miles to be humiliated? I knew in that moment that the hard work, sweat, and tears that were supposed to pay off with a shiny gold metal and an adorable white silk national champ jacket, came down to one thought: “Can we pull this together?”
Before we could even wrap our heads around the situation that was being presented to us my team and I were being hastily rushed toward the overwhelming maze of two-story black curtains. I could hear the abundant crowd roaring on the other side. Our parents, eagerly waiting, had no clue the panic that was now instilled within us. Scott, my teams’ choreographer, sashayed through the groups of cheerleaders toward us. “Good luck, Ladies” he muttered, “Sorry about the sudden changes in your routine…I… I didn’t think anything was illegal.” At wit’s end, I huddled my team together. Taking turns, my co-captains and I shared some inspirational words and started singing our team song: “Lean on Me.” Suddenly, we were united on stage in front of hundreds of people. Blinded by the spotlights in front of me, I glanced to my right only to

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