Saturday night cheerleading officially ended. This is the first big thing during my senior year to actually be over, like really over. And it was hard.
The NAIA National Tournament the OKWU men’s basketball team was playing operates on single elimination. Saturday night the men lost, meaning basketball was over and more importantly, for me anyway, so was cheerleading.
I really hadn’t even thought about it being over because you never know until the end of the game what is going to happen. But when the clock got down to four minutes with a sufficient gap in the score I started to figure it out.
Then two minutes came and I realized that it was probably over but being the eternal optimist I am, I was still hoping somehow they would pull through.
But at approximately thirty seconds to go the coach took the Senior players out for the last time and I lost it.
I always cry at this part. I have every year. Generally I cry because the players cry and seeing men cry is something I don’t see often but also because I know basketball is something they love that is now coming to an end for them.
This year, the tears were different.
Yes, the players cried, and yes they were leaving their basketball careers, and yes it was the end of something they love, but it was also the end of something I love.
Basketball is over and so is cheerleading. Sitting there, on that gym floor, watching the guys I’ve watched play for three years now leave the floor red-eyed and likely heartbroken, I realized – it’s over.
Saturday was the last time I will ever sit on that floor and cheer my heart, and my voice, out. It was the last time I will be captain of the OKWU cheerleading squad, the last time I will sit as a part of a sports team, the only sport related team I have ever been a part of, and it is the end of this era and chapter of my life.
Cheerleading is over.