Our youth cheer & football league's Opening Ceremonies was this past Saturday. Not only did we have uniform distribution for all of our squads for three hours prior to the event...but I was asked to sing the National Anthem. I used to sing the Anthem for Charlotte's hockey team (between 7,000-10,000 people at those games; not like major league 60,000!) so that part wasn't as scary - our Opening Ceremonies is about 6,000 people...but it *was* a little different, b/c maybe 10 people out of those several thousand knew me then. This time, it's *my* cheer program; I'm in the executive leadership of this league; EVERYONE knows me, so if I bombed, I would NOT be able to slink away anonymously. :-P
And then I woke up on Friday with a stuffy head & sore, scratchy throat. I asked for prayer and self-medicated with Flonase, phở, ginger tea, & a few hours on the couch, before going to pack hundreds of uniforms for the next day. I also made myself be quiet all Friday & Saturday through distribution. (You *KNOW* that killed me!!! :-D Quiet is not my strong suit!)
Even after wrangling 300+ cheerleaders and getting them properly lined up on the field, God made the Anthem awesome!!! 💗 I'm GUTTED that no one videoed the whole thing. [I had earplugs in, b/c there's a significant delay b/t when you make noise & when it comes out over the stadium speakers, (no in-ear monitors available there, either) so I don't even know what it fully sounded like!] I regret not making a bigger deal about it beforehand and asking people to tape it. :-/ I guess I thought surely SOMEONE would just come through. Lesson learned. One of my cheer moms got two tiny clips - literally 15 seconds - b/c once she realized it was *me* singing, she was fumbling with her phone! :-P She put them together for me:
I will say, though, the response made my heart swell!!! A few of my cheer coaches posted:
"You sounded Amazing! Gave me chills."
"Omg! You should have seen everyone's face while you sang! Wow! Great job!"
"I wish I had had it recorded! I was completely shocked by the voice that came out of you! Killed it!"
I told them: "You know what's so funny? I let cheer go, b/c musical theatre was my life, and I was *so certain* I'd NEVER use cheer, again, as an adult. HAAAAA!!! God definitely has a way of making sure our different passions get fulfilled, even if it's in very unexpected seasons of life!" Everyone gushed, even the stoic football people who aren't loose with compliments. :-D I'm so glad I didn't back down from this opportunity (...b/c I definitely considered it!) It was powerful.
OH! I almost forgot!!! So this is also the 20th anniversary of our cheer program, and I was asked to put together a tribute video for the occasion. I got pics from the last 20 years, interviewed girls & coaches, & welded it all together. (Particularly proud of my audio mixing skills, adding the interviews into the background song! :-D)
The actual Opening Ceremonies football game was cancelled for storms, (you can see the black clouds in the first Anthem clip pic!) BUT we still had ALL 300+ cheerleaders on the field first to do our Opening Ceremonies Hello Cheer & 20th Anniversary Mashup Dance after the Anthem & video tribute, so CHEER SUCCESS! 🎉 I'm extra proud of my squad for being beautifully poised without me near by when I have Board duties:
I am really loving my squad this year, so far. (Not that I don't have 2 or 3 challenges, but...) Maybe it's that they're all one more year mature? My youngest girls are finally 3rd graders, after starting with me in Kinder. Maybe they just know exactly what they're getting with me as their coach, with 2/3rds of them for the 4th year now? I know another part of it is that I feel waaay less personal pressure. Last year - my first year running the whole cheer program myself - I really felt like I had to raise the bar higher than ever, and I wanted to keep raising expectations every week. It was also Will's last year playing, and it meant the world to me for every Saturday to be EXCELLENT. This year, 1) I've more than proven myself. 2) A bit of intensity has relaxed, b/c we're no longer cheering for MY son or our football family. 3) This year, we're going to be cheering for a different football team each week, so I'm not as emotionally wrapped up in the team's performance, AND b/c it's a new audience each week, we can occasionally repeat halftime shows, b/c they will be new to the fans, which is a LOAD of extra choreo & teaching time off my shoulders. 4) And perhaps the biggest factor: now that Annelise is also doing competition cheer, *I* am no longer her sole source of preparation for junior high cheer. Yes, my "graduated" girls made their junior high squads this year, (I was stunned!) but still - when it was only me preparing her way, anything less than hardcore was unacceptable. Now with her getting additional skills at the cheer gym, I feel like it gives me license to be more... not relaxed (my cheer fams would balk at that description! :-P) but maybe less "speed demon drill sergeant" and now just "drill sergeant". ;-)