It’s been a while since I’ve posted and that’s mostly due to the fact that it’s senior year and I’ve busy with preparing myself for my future. But here’s something that I want to keep and reflect as I bring my high school years to a close. In the midst of writing college essays, supplements, and scholarship essays, I had the opportunity to address this prompt:
Discuss your involvement in and contributions to a community near home, school or elsewhere. Please select an experience different from the one you discussed in the previous question, even if this experience also involved leadership. What did you accomplish? How did this experience influence your goals?
I found it in myself to discuss something that has been near and dear to my heart these past four years and that has affected me tremendously as a person. My mother read over this and could tell the passion that I put into writing this and into my sport. So here is it…
As I entered high school, I decided to end my childhood career in dance and to begin a new experience in cheerleading, just as I had always planned as a little girl. Cheerleading came to have much more of an impact on my life than I ever imagined it would. I was surprised and grateful when I was the only freshman to make the Varsity squad after impressing the coaches with my extensive dance background and outgoing spirit. Since attending my first summer cheer camp, I have enjoyed every minute of practice, bruise on my body, and tear down my cheeks that have come from all the hard work and diligence.
Although we do not formally compete, my team attends Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) Cheer Camp every summer with over 600 other cheerleaders and around 30 other teams. For four days straight, from sun up to sun down, we extensively learn new dances, cheers, stunts and pyramids; all while preparing for competition at the end of camp. The last day of camp holds the Camp Championship where all teams compete in the dance, cheer, and stunt categories. The MICDS Cheerleading Squad has never failed to place in the top three every year since my freshman year. In addition to Camp Championship, auditions are also held for UCA All-Americans. Coaches are encouraged to nominate members of their team to audition and those nominees perform in front of the judges and other cheerleaders for the opportunity to be named an All-American.
This summer, during my last cheer camp, I was finally nominated to audition. I remember being nervous and shaking as I stood in front of the entire camp by myself anxious to perform. I started with my welcoming smile, opened my mouth and clasped my hands together, ready to start the first cheer and dance. Before I knew it, my audition was over and I just had to wait until the final day of camp to find out the results. During the Championship Award Ceremony, my squad placed 2nd in dance, 3rd in cheer and received the Superior Squad Award, earning us a bid to perform at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, FL. I was thrilled by these accolades; however, I was still nervous to hear about All-American selections. When the time finally came, I sat in a circle with my team, with my hands clenched, as we all held our heads down. They began calling out names and crowning other girls with medals, and as they got further and further down the list, I panicked from fear of not hearing my name called. Then suddenly I heard them call my first name and my heart began to race (because there was another girl who tried out with the same first name as me). When they finally called “Ferguson” I was filled with accomplishment and happiness; I had finally made the All-American team after four years of wishing. I was one of two girls from my team to make it.
As an All-American, I was invited to travel and perform in both the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the London New Year’s Day Parade. I opted to perform in Macy’s so during Thanksgiving Break, I traveled to New York City for a week of intense morning and late night rehearsals, city life, and the greatest experience of a lifetime. I recall waking up at 3 am, the morning of the parade to prepare for lining up and performing in front of hundreds of people on the streets of New York, but also thousands of people watching on national television. It was an experience like no other, to be on the green carpet in front of the notorious 12-floor Macy’s Department Store, dancing with NBC cameras in your face. This was truly an experience I will always remember and cherish because I was able to shine through my love for performing.
Not everyone in the world agrees that cheerleading is a sport, so when I hear comments denying the significance of cheerleading, I am forced to have thick skin and to prove my point. Cheerleading has influenced my goals by reminding me how important it is to always find a reason to perform at my best ability, in anything I try, and to stay focused and train hard in order to accomplish what I want.