Thursday, April 5, 2012

Nationals... Part 1

This is only part one of my trip because I didn't take many pictures at all. I really didn't even have time. But one of the Mom's took over like 2000 pictures and is going to make them available to all of us soon... She got some amazing pictures!

The past weekend was full of sore muscles, lots of cheer, drama (of course), and tons and tons of
tears! I knew going into this trip that the girls were emotionally drained, physically tired, and
mentally ready to have Nationals be completed. It had been a really hard year for my JV squad. We went from 21 girls to 14 throughout the year. This meant making constant changes to our routine, which is always frustrating, as well as having girls in positions that they weren't entirely comfortable in, like flying. I have never coached at a competition level, so the stress also wore on
me. I didn't know what I was doing, and just did the best I could to clean them and make sure I thought their routine looked good... but I had never seen anything like what I saw this past weekend! It was a great opportunity for me to learn, which I really did learn so much, and to increase my coaching skills and knowledge, which I was super grateful for! My team also had only one member who had actually ever competed in cheer before, so basically we were very inexperienced and fresh to the competition world.

The plane ride to California was quite interesting. All of the girls were very excited and loaded with energy (the complete opposite of how it was when we arrived home). I felt bad for the other people on the plane, since the girls would scream every time there was turbulence... which there was plenty of. I made it through the plane ride with the help of medication, sprite, Les Miserables on the I Pod as well as the book, and lots of deep breathing.

Baby girl kicked the entire flight to and from L.A. and definitely didn't give me time to actually rest. Honestly, the worst part about the entire trip was going through security! I get the worst anxiety about it! Those TSA people are scary! But I made it through safely and unharmed at both airports. At LAX they tried to put me through this human x-ray machine, but then realized I was pregnant so that wasn't going to work... thank goodness! Also they still have pay phones at LAX.... Haven't seen one of those in years! Wouldn't dare touch it though...

When we arrived in Anaheim Thursday evening we headed straight to practice since both JV, and our two varsity stunt groups had competition the next day. I have never had such amazing
practices as we did in California. The girls were
super focused and worked so hard while we were
there. I was so impressed and loved watching them hit stunt after stunt perfectly. It was nice to practice outside that first day in the nice humid weather...
that night all 34 of the cheerleaders, 3
coaches, and the principal all went to The Cheesecake Factory where the principal surprised us all and treated. That had to be so expensive! Let me just take a minute to talk about the
principal. He is awesome! He came to every competition we had in Utah except for one, he flew
with us to California and back, he watched the competition and
supported these girls nonstop. He is an amazing and dedicated person who excels at his job!

Friday, we spent with more practice and keeping the girls calm and focused for their competition that night. The stunt groups performed around noonish and placed 8th and 10th which was AMAZING! JV didn't perform until 6:30 that night! It's tough keeping girls focused and calm
while they spend the entire day waiting to perform their routine that they had worked so hard on for so long. It was intimidating in the warm up area being surrounded by so many amazing
squads and watching them stunt, tumble, and dance. But after reading the poem "The Race" and crying, then having an amazing pep talk from the principal and crying, the girls were ready
to perform. I wasn't sure how they were going to do in front of such a large crowd and in a
division of 22 other JV teams. It's true we were division champs in Utah and placed first every competition, but we never had any other teams to compete against. JV teams just don't really compete in Utah. So we were surrounded by these amazing California JV teams who were familiar and very experienced in competition. Copper Hills JV, came out and rocked that floor.

They hit solid stunts and just performed beautifully! I am getting goose bumps just remembering how awesome it was! You'll notice the guys on the floor to help if stunts fall and what not, well one of them had long flowing hair and a sweet nasty mustache and definitely looked like he drove a van... a little creepy, but super entertaining! After we performed we had to wait until 9:30pm for awards. We didn't know how many they were taking to finals from our division, but they started giving trophy's out at 11th place. This meant that 11 of the JV teams in our division wouldn't even be recognized at the awards! It was kind of intense. Slowly they read the names off.... when they got to 7th place and handed out the last trophy I was a little nervous. Our name hadn't been called yet. I thought that the girls had done a great job, but maybe because I was new to this and had no idea what I was doing that they weren't
really that good. They began to read the names of the 6 finalists teams that would perform again on Sunday... the 4th name they read was Copper Hills. It was a very emotional and exciting moment, to know that everything that you had worked so hard for was paying off. The Mom who took all the pictures has a great picture of me going over to the girls after we found out... definitely crying, but so excited! Copper Hills had never had a cheerleading team to make it to finals and here this young, small, inexperienced JV team had done it!

Saturday was tough for the girls because our hotel was literally across the street from Disneyland, and we were trying to keep them focused on the competition and not playing. They
had free time on Saturday after they watched our varsity team perform (they placed 13th in
their division which also had 22 teams) and I was so proud that none of them chose to go. They practiced and hung out with each other... then at 7pm they were stuck in the hotel the rest of the night in order to remain focused and to get rest.

Sunday, was finals. They were performing at noon and spent the morning getting ready and then we headed to practice. We started practicing and they hit everything super solid and so we ended up just hanging out and talking because we didn't want to tire them out. We were lucky this year to have Ashley, one of our varsity coaches spend time with us and help us with our routine and prepare us for competition. I would've have been majorly lost without her! Emily, our other varsity coach, also came with us to warm up on Sunday to support the girls.
I know that the girls really appreciated her being there for them. When we lined up for performance the girls we a little nervous, it probably didn't help that the USA rep told us that this was going to be televised and so the girls needed to watch out for the cameras... why would they tell them that right before they were about to perform? Anyway, once again, they came out and did their thing. It was the best I had ever seen their cheer, dance, jumps, and tumbling... however, stunting was a bit off, but still no one dropped and it was an overall good performance. Here is the link to watch their final performance... When it came time for awards Utah really represented! I think we had a team in almost every division in finals and that was amazing! My JV team ended up going home with 5th place and I couldn't be more proud!
They exceeded all of my expectations, as well as expectations from everyone else! 5th in the nation for such a small and inexperienced team is AMAZING!

Sunday night and Monday morning were spent mostly at Disneyland. I decided to pass since I couldn't go on all the fun rides and I was super exhausted anyway. I spent time getting to know some of the parents, who I really wish I could've gotten to know earlier and enjoying the weather.
I am aware in this picture that I am large!!! But what do you expect? I'm growing a human in there!

When it was time to go to the airport, we were all so exhausted and ready to be home. Ashley, one of my captains, refused to put our trophy down and walked around the airport with it it to find food. I should've taken a picture of that! It was pretty funny! When we came down the escalator to our friends and family in Utah, we were welcomed with big banners and flowers and so much support. Halfway down the elevator I lost it. The minute I saw Spencer I realized how much I had missed him! We had never spent a night apart since we've been married and now we just spent 5 days away from each other. I'm sure the hormones weren't helpful but I just could not stop crying! He brought me beautiful roses and just made me feel so loved and missed.

So now I'm done coaching at Copper Hills, and about to start a new life in Idaho. I am super sad to be saying goodbye after 2 years. Some of these girls had been on my squad for 2 years and I had spent so much time with them. They weren't just high school cheerleaders, they were my friends. I will miss them all so much, but I couldn't have asked for a better way to end the year!

1 comment:

  1. congrats Jen!!! What an amazing accomplishment! You are like the best coach ever. I bet those girl are so sad to lose you! So glad you got to take a fun warm trip! You and baby look great!