When I first joined AEC I was eight years old and on Mini Level 1 team Prodigy. Over the last seven seasons I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy many achievements- one being that I have been able to transition from a non-tumbler (I could barely cartwheel), to a confident tumbler working on their full-twisting straight-backs. Every time I achieve something new I feel incredibly proud because it reminds me of how far I’ve come.
In my first year, I won cheerleader of the year! I was honoured to win this award because it showed me that the coaches thought I had worked hard, showed great dedication and had a positive attitude. I’m not naturally an outwardly confident person, so to win this gave me a more assured belief in myself that actually, maybe I had something to offer in this sport.
Due to the commitment I displayed in my first year, the AEC coaches rewarded my efforts by asking me to double-duty; this is where an athlete competes on more than one team. I was really happy about this because it meant that AEC felt I could cope with a bigger role. However, if this wasn’t enough, AEC then asked me to compete on three teams! This overwhelmed me slightly because the responsibility was now ten-fold. From this experience I learned a lot about myself: that I could cope with pressure and that I if I worked hard I could be an asset to any team in the AEC programme.
One of my favourite achievements is that I am able to provide versatility for my team(s). I have been a flyer, a base and a tumbler- the key components of cheerleading athletes specialise in; I’ve been able to adapt to all three. It has helped in my development as an athlete because I’ve hard to work on my performance and ability- meaning I’m always pushing myself.
When I first found out that I was going to become a member of the AEC coaching staff I was incredibly excited. It was a new chapter in my cheer career with the potential for doors to open for me further down the line. Mixed with this excitement were my nerves. Coaching is a massive responsibility, it involves being a leader and being a positive role-model for the athletes you’re working with. For a role like this, confidence is key, something I’ve never really had, but when I found out I’d be coaching I was determined to do the job well, and hopefully come out of my shell a bit more in the process. When Angela told me I was going to be coaching on Prodigy I was thrilled! It was like being given the opportunity to come full circle and help develop the next generation of AEC athletes. It was going to be a special experience.
The first prodigy training session was incredibly nerve-wracking- I had never really led a cheer session before. I was also anxious because I was going to be working with coaches who were really experienced and had coached a number of teams before. I didn’t want to do myself an injustice. I decided I was going to learn as much as I could from them so I could incorporate it into my own coaching style.
As the season has progressed, I found myself enjoying coaching more, and more. I’ve got used to working with the younger athletes and it has helped me to come out of my comfort zone. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season has to offer, developing a stronger bond with my team, and working towards nationals!