Seriously. They were young enough that Saucy felt compelled to bring them juice and granola snacks for the halftime of games. They were young enough to be excited about it. Juice boxes were exciting not that long ago.
When Saucy looks back at old photos, she cannot believe how much they've changed. They've grown into amazing young women. They learned so many lessons together... so much more than counting to eight, lifting a friend or attempting a cartwheel. Saucy doesn't know if these lessons can be counted, there are too many of them.
Sometimes they won, sometimes they did not. These girls were always focused and prepared to compete. Even in defeat, they were joyful and proud of their accomplishments. Someone once commented to Saucy, "I have never seen a team so happy to get second place" and that about sums it up. This team learned to never take anything for granted. Winning is a fleeting feeling. Doing your best is more important. If you put your best effort on the mat every time, you will still be a winner, no matter what medal you take home.
They learned to share their good fortune. They loved to take thank-you's and good wishes to other teams... even if they were competing against them. They even practiced with other teams when they had the chance. It's more fun to play against a friend. They learned that even though it was healthy to have a little rivalry, comparison is the thief of joy. Thank you to the blogging friend who messaged Saucy that when she saw the Cheerios perform live she smiled for the rest of the day. "They were filled with joy and it radiated from them" she said, "their light was infectious."
They spilled sprinkles, they had kitchen dance parties. They gossiped and were too noisy sometimes and they hijacked Saucy's Facebook. They learned that kindness is free and that a smile is the most beautiful curve on a woman's body.
They learned about teamwork. Even when they baked cupcakes, they had their own jobs. Some of them mixed, some of them scooped. Some got handy enough with frosting bags and making change that they got jobs at restaurants and cupcake stores. Being a Cheerio was like being in a work education program sometimes. Someone had to count the float and someone had to sort the money at the end of the day. They learned that miracles don't happen. Sweat happens. Hard work happens. Effort and teamwork happen.
As they got older, they learned that friendships can be hard work. Sometimes you have to let things go or agree to disagree. In the end, the core group remain and they realize they are stronger friends in the wake of supporting each other even when they didn't see eye to eye. They are unwavering in their allegiance to each other. They learned that time apart can be soothed with a text that says "I miss you" or "I love you".
In a sport where "perfection" is key, they had to learn that perfection is a loaded word. They had the opportunity to perfect their skills and performance but Saucy hoped that they wouldn't feel the pressure of living up to someone else's idea of perfection with regards to their appearance or body type. Saucy did everything she could to teach them that real girls aren't perfect... and perfect girls aren't real.
Because clearly, no problem that you have is unsurmountable if you are surrounded by good friends wearing Minnie Mouse bows.
When the season was over and the results were tallied, the outcome was amazing. Grand Champions here, Division Champions there. Spirit Award Winners. Top score here, top score there. And yes as mentioned before, they did regain the Provincial Championship that had eluded them since winning it four years ago during their inaugural season. This must means they learned the simple lessons of perseverance and dedication.
While this may be the end of blog posts featuring The Cheerios doing what they did - cheerleading - it is by no means the end of blog posts featuring The Cheerios. Saucy sees the core group as much as she ever did and if experience has taught her anything over the past four years, it's this:
Having said that, she's off to warm up the oven.