To my beautiful, wonderful, intelligent, sassy, strong willed, and talented 7th and 8th grade cheerleading team,
As I took some time by myself to write this speech, I very quickly realized how much I do not want to say goodbye to this season. Through my 16+ years of cheerleading, I can tell you without a doubt that this cheerleading season and this team is one that I will never forget. I never expected to become so attached to every one of my cheer girls, and I have found myself loving each of you individually for the person that you are and the woman that you are growing to be. I feel that it is important to note that the reason we are all gathered here today is because of the hard work, the athleticism, the dedication, the performance, and the fun and fond memories that we all experienced as a team this season. I hope that each of you girls know that you are the reason we are all gathered here to celebrate, and I hope in that you all can feel very proud of yourselves and of our team.
It’s crazy to me when I begin to reflect on this season. Way back in August which seems like a lifetime ago, we all met for summer conditioning as a quiet and shy team, reserved to truly expressing ourselves and nervous if we would all become the team we are now. I look around the room right now and I see one big group of 18 friends, bonded over the sport that brought us all together four months ago through a newfound sisterhood that cannot be shaken. Girls, look around this room and think about how much you have accomplished because of your teammates sitting next to you. You have rose together and you have accomplished more than I ever had planned for you, as cheerleaders as well as young women. I could not be more proud to be your coach as I am right this very second.
Some of the best moments of the last three months of my life involve each of you girls. I could spend the whole night telling hilarious stories of each of you, but I don’t want the girls to run away that fast! Some of our more embarrassing moments include setting defense cheers when we were actually on offense, or vice versa, the announcer of the home games saying Maija’s name wrong every single time he calls the girls name even when I write it out phonetically, and not to mention Lissy slipping on the grass each and every time she high kicks or even walks out of place. But, some of my prouder moments include Megan Dole who stepped up as main base in a strong stunt group and went above and beyond my expectations for her as a cheerleader, watching Allison Berry improve as a strong cheerleader, loud and proud at games when doing our cheers, Iliana improving so much as a flyer in her stunt group to the point in pulling her Lib at practice, quiet little Paige calling out cheers as loud as she can at our games, Olivia Vicary coming back to the team stronger than ever after her concussion, Emma Shover stepping it up to be a flyer at practice and then even during a halftime routine after tons of convincing and bribing, and each and every one of you breaking down the walls that is junior high school to become not only teammates, but also great friends with the girls that you are sharing this evening with.
What you have won for yourselves this season is far more than any trophy or gift that I could bestow upon you tonight. First, your hard-earned knowledge, drive, passion, dedication, and sisterhood is its own very special sort of trophy. Not only have you learned more about the sport of cheerleading this season, but I have watched each and every one of you learn your strength and purpose. You have learned how to overcome hard adversity and how to persevere. You have learned how to take risks as individuals, and how to trust each other as you competed as a team on and off the field. You have learned that we are stronger as one group of 18 than we are as individuals. You have learned how to triumph graciously, and how to hold your heads high in the face of defeat. You have all learned that there’s nothing that we cannot accomplish together. By becoming successful while remaining grounded and humble, by coming back to play again after a hard loss or an injury or even an emotional setback, and becoming you have truly learned how to win, not just in sports, but in life. Because of this, I pray that wherever the path of life takes you when you’re not under my wing, I challenge you to take the lead, to make a difference, to lend a helping hand, and to leave the world a better place than how you found it. That is a prize of sorts that will never tarnish, and one that could never be taken from you.
To my seventh grade girls in the room, remember that next year you girls are the mentors of this program and the ones that every young girl in the program will be looking up to. I hope that you learned through your eighth grade friends and teammates from this team what it means to be a role model, a leader, and a good example. To my eight grade girls who will now transition to high school cheerleading, be proud to always look back and say that you were a member of the DJP cheer program. You leave behind long and proud years of accomplishment and a legacy that won’t be forgotten. I hope over all of what we have done this year, this season stands out as your championship moment. You will always be a part of the DJP family, and this will always be your home no matter how far you go after this.
To all of the parents in the room, thank you for your hard work and dedication to the sport this season as well. Thank you for allowing me to have a small impact on your daughter over the past fourteen weeks, for sharing each of them with me, and for allowing me to get to know each and every one of them. Thank you to the board for supporting me as a young coach and mentoring me along the way learning my ropes of DJP. Thank you to all of you who have volunteered for our program, whether it be concession stands, bringing snacks and drinks to the games, and even helping sponsor this banquet. And to my 18 beautiful, wonderful, intelligent, sassy, strong willed, and talented cheerleaders, I am so very proud of each and every one of you. I hope you all walk away from this season knowing that I love you very much, that I am so proud of each and every one of you, and that I will always be your biggest fan, on and off the field and even when our season is over.
In conclusion, I hope all of you girls know that the true prize of this banquet is you. I urge all of my girls to remember why you play. Play this sport for yourself in order to break your own goals, your own standards, and your own boundaries. Play this game for your teammates, because we always win together and lose together as a strong and successful team. Most importantly, and in the words of Mia Hamm, “Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never look back. Play for her.” Play for the little girl in the stands that cheers along with the cheers that we call, play for the girls at practice who watch you stunt in disbelief that cheerleading can be THAT cool, but most importantly, play for the little girl inside of you that inspired you to play in the first place. Always make sure you cherish every season, every game, and every practice; I assure you it will be over a lot sooner than you realize. I will always remember this season because of the extraordinary young women who shared it with me. I love you all more than you guys know, and I cannot wait to see your continued success in the future.
Thank you, and have a great evening!