So if you follow me on social media, you are quite aware that this weekend I was in Niagara Falls for the Nationals Cheerleading competition (quite sure I broke every social media rule with the number of posts per day - not even a little bit sorry!). I could not let the weekend close without acknowledging how proud I am of my munchkin and her teammates.
Will start out by saying that while this post will have me gushing about Ally and RockNPop, my pride extends to every team from Black Widow Cheer Gym that was there this weekend. I saw each team overcome obstacles to lay down their best performances to date - and the support that this gym shows their athletes deserves to be recognized. It was amazing to watch girls and coaches run from one hall to another just to be sure they caught their teammates in action. Have said it before, and will say it again - I am thrilled to be part of the Black Widow family and look forward to watching the gym continue to support their athletes as they grow.
As for Ally's team, I cannot begin to gush enough. These girls, who range in age from 8-11, are rock stars. Imagine having to get up on a huge stage in front of hundreds of people, under glaring lights, and perform heart stopping stunts and tumbling - I am not sure I could stand the pressure. These girls not only stood up to it...they thrived. Did I mention they had to do it twice? Yep...twice. And they did amazing both times! They hit every stunt, their tumbling and tosses were on, and they did it all with smiles and sass.
I also have the privilege of accompanying them during warm ups. It truly gives you a new appreciation for what they go through the minutes leading up to hitting the mat. This weekend, the girls were nervous on Saturday - you could tell during their warm ups. Was a tad bit worried - but I can tell you the exact second their nerves calmed and they remembered how amazing they are. Their coach, Tessa, gave them a pep talk just before they lined up to perform. As she told them how ready they were, how much she adored them and how much she believed in them, you could visibly see their nerves disappear. Their shoulders dropped, they stood taller and their smiles returned. They turned around, grabbed each others hands and walked off with a "we got this" attitude. Did I mention another reason I adore Black Widow - their coaches know exactly what their athletes need and give it to them. Tessa knew they just needed a reminder of how prepared they were, and that they needed to do their job but have fun. After that, they ROCKED their performance.
And Ally made me cry both times. She focused when she needed to, did her job on the mat, and never stopped smiling - unless of course it was to give a bit of attitude LOL. I have been humbled as I watch how hard she works - she always wants to go to the gym early and is forever begging me for "just 10 more minutes" after practice is done. She is determined to meet the goals she has set for herself - and I could not be prouder to watch her tick them off one by one. And her hard work showed this weekend - she hit all her tumbling and kept her tops up for every stunt. I also watched her deal with a small disappointment. One of the girls hurt her ankle earlier in the day. The coach decided that Ally's group would not do one skill in the second run. Although she was bummed she would be able to do it, when it came time in the routine she teked it like a pro and smiled through it all. Love how she handled the last minute change...that's my girl!
I wish I could say they placed where they wanted at the end, but even after 2 superb runs they placed 6th (they had a big deduction on the second run for one skill). But you know what...it didn't matter. They walked into the awards ceremony knowing they got a deduction, and still squealed in delight when they found out they placed 6th. The atmosphere was incredible, and the giggling and squealing was contagious (I pretty much had no voice left by Sunday afternoon).
This was Ally's first trip to Nationals - and I know it is not her last. I can't wait to see what next year brings, both for her personally as an athlete, and for the gym that we consider a second home. As for me, I'm looking forward to a small break...before we start back up again for the 2016-17 season. I say bring it on :-)