Young Journey as a Flyer Underdog

Young Journey as a Flyer Underdog

Coming from a background with minimal dance experience right into cheerleading was an adjustment like anything would be. Since I was small I was excited that I got a chance to be a flyer. Being small in the cheerleading world has its benefits. One of the main benefits is I get the opportunity to be a flyer. A flyer that is small, cute, but scared of the air is a no go when your gym is very competitive. As an athlete it is important to bring your best each time you step on the mat, but adding the pressure of having 2 parents that were collegiate athletes makes it 10x harder. I started off very scared and had many falls. Let’s not talk about the stretching that was required to be the best that you can be for your team. I hated that part more than anything. But when it was time to perform I had to step up and do my job.
Starting off as an underdog is a good and bad thing. It’s a good thing, because they don’t expect much and you can climb to the top. But, it’s a bad thing because they never expect you to do anything better than just be part of the team. As my mom started to see this, our drive quickly changed. I started to notice I never received the chances that the other athletes would get when it came to flying. This was very frustrating and diminished my confidence as a young cheerleader.
As each season progressed and I got more and more confident in my abilities, I continued to see them push different athletes. I kept my focused and kept working on advancing my skills and increasing my confidence in the air and overall on the floor. Being an African American it’s critical to have older flyers to talk to. I thought this would help me understand the underdog treatment that I was receiving. Lack of diversity in the cheerleading world within competitive cheer was something I started to ask my parents about. Since I didn’t see many diverse flyers within my own gym, I really started to question my role as cheerleader and pushing myself to be a model for not only my friends but for older and younger flyers to show them when the cards are stacked against you to keep pushing and working.
Being an underdog I worked and worked and moved up a level. That was a big adjustment having worlds team coaches now coaching me. My whole mentality had to change, and quick. I was a 6 year old being pushed and taken out of my comfort zone day in and day out. Still not comfortable in the air and knowing that I was not going to be given additional opportunities like other flyers, I had to find some type of inspiration. Luckily we had big sisters on our top worlds team to provide encouragement. The problem was they were already established and mature as I am still a child and struggling with why was this role placed upon me.
My journey as a flyer has not been an easy one. I tend to get overlooked quite often and not given an abundance of chances, but I stay focused and continue to progress on my own time. I have had coaches who push me and believe in me, but the main thing that is still missing is more flyers that look like me that I can confide in.
Overall, as this year has been one of the most challenging yet, I am still in this role of being an underdog. I think I am starting to like it more, because it gives me the opportunity to show everyone who has doubted me what I am able to do. Being a flyer has its obstacles, but being an African American flyer is even harder. As we continue to stay and showcase our talent in the cheerleading world we have to show diversity even on the top teams in gyms across America. We are more than bases or tumblers, we are flyers and we are also full of life up in the air.
If you are an underdog on your team or in your gym, then embrace it and show them that black girls cheer.
 ~ Rory Marigny
Sharita Richardson
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