I have been a cheerleader for most of my life. One of my deciding factors to come to Lourdes was the promise that at some point in my college career Lourdes would have a competition cheer team. My first year as a college student this team did not exist. Instead there was the LU spirit squad, a group of 5 girls (3 of which had never cheered a day in their lives) that cheered on the sidelines at basketball games. I had a choice, do this and hope the next year it became something great, or not participate because it wasn't what I thought it would be.

I chose to participate.

Day in and out we woke up at 5 a.m. to get to practice by 6 a.m. Went to class all day, worked fundraisers, coached a kid’s team, and cheered at games. Oh, did I mention we all were full-time students, and all had at least one job?

We struggled along for a year building the program up with the help of an amazing coach. Finally, the dream came true: we were told the next year we would have a competition squad in part because of the work we put into the spirit squad.

This year the competition season has taught me more about life than I could have ever imagined. I met some of the most amazing people I could have ever hoped to meet, fought through adversity and injuries, changed routines the day before a competition because of injuries, qualified for NCA nationals (although we will not be attending this year), competed against some amazing teams and held our own as a first year program.

But most importantly, we made a family. We trust a group of 4 people to toss us in the air and pray they catch us on the way down. We get hit, we get bruised, we leave sore every day. But when you put it all together it's this amazing routine, and it's all worth it in the end when you can look at yourself and say I did my best; look at your teammate and say I gave my best for you; and look to your coach and see the pride in her eyes.

We work for each other. We give everything for each other. We practice at 6 a.m. and then at night until 10 p.m. We all once again are full-time student with jobs outside of school. We are all active in other clubs on campus. We fundraise and have study hours.

The point of this is not that everyone should be a cheerleader. The point is in college you're going to have choices. To participate or not. You are going to have classes you don’t care for that get you to the next point in your career. Embrace them. Each step of the way is a learning process.

There are times you are going to feel beat up and knocked down but that's when you keep going! That's when it's important. You are going to wake up early and stay up late. But it’s worth it when you get an A on that test. You are going to have to trust people along the way, and trust yourself and believe in your skills, and some days you're just going to have to say a prayer to get you through the day.

You can do multiple things in college, including taking the opportunity to join a club or team, or have a job. You are going to have great achievements and great disappointments, but it's all worth it in the end when you achieve that goal of graduation with the degree you've dreamed of.

P.S. Congratulations to the Lourdes Cheerleading team on making it to NAIA nationals in Oklahoma City!