I slammed my locker as Valerie came bounding up to me. I looked up at the clock, I only had a few more periods to go until I could begin.
“What’s up Val?” I sighed, trying to get out of talking to her so I wouldn’t be late to my next class,
“Um, Emily wanted me to ask you what you were doing after school today…”
I told her plainly, “I’m going to try out for Yearbook photography club!”
“Well Emily wanted me to tell you that…” she hesitated, clearly afraid of hurting my feelings.
“What did she want to tell me?” I faked my puzzled demeanor. I knew exactly what she wanted to tell me.
“Well she wanted to tell you not to get your hopes up… You know what happens every year…” She looked so nervous and scared to tell me this, that I almost felt sorry for her…
“Well tell Emily that I’m just fine, thanks. She doesn’t need to worry about me!” I snapped at her, and then spun and walked away to my next class.
I shakily held the huge camera is my clammy hands, and pressed the button to take a picture.
“Cool!” I exclaimed,
“Yes”, Mr. Dale, the head of the yearbook club replied, “You seem to be ok at this, just remember one thing about being in this club…”
With a deafening thunk, the camera hit the hard asphalt.
“Um… Ooops?” I felt the tears tugging at the corners of my eyes,
“Don’t Drop The Camera!”
I kicked the ball along the sharp blades of grass, tripping every few feet. Beads of sweat rolled down my face as I saw the Soccer coach blow he whistle, “Try harder!” she shouted at me,
But the thing was, I was trying as hard as I could. I kept kicking the ball, ready to power through, make it through the goal, impress the coach, and make the soccer team.
I slipped on the slick patches of grass, and stared at the ball that had caused my failure for 4 minutes, until the coach yelled at me again.
The only thing I remember about volleyball practice was being hit in the head with the ball.
And the same thing went for badminton tryouts!
The cool air conditioning of the band room was what I hoped to be a good omen.
“Ok Maryellen, show me what you have. Play a concert B flat scale for me.” Mr. Dale ordered.
I looked at the music as I held the clarinet in my hands, “Sure thing Mr. Dale!”
So I took a deep breath, and…
I began to play.
“STOP! Stop! My oh my! I might have to see a doctor after that! See a counselor, young lady!”
I waved my flag with a school-spirit-filled “Whoop!” It echoed around the school gym, and the other girls stared at me and glared. I sighed, but was quickly relieved of embarrassment as the color guard coach blew her whistle, signaling us to begin our routine.
I raised the flag, and started to copy the coach’s routine. My knees were shaking. I knew I had to make this team.
And my embarrassment came flooding back as a random girl screeched in pain as my flag came in contact with her head.
I looked up at my sister, Saige, the captain of the cheer team. Surely she wouldn’t cut me from the cheer team like every year before.
I was losing all hope, but I held my head high, because that’s what I do.
“Hello!” Saige began her speech, “Do you guys see this uniform?” she gestured to her shimmery dolphin’s cheerleading uniform.
“I know you want to wear this. But you have to work for this uniform ladies! Dolphin’s cheer is the hardest form of athleticism on campus.
I stood straighter. After all, I was trying out for the most serious sport in the entire school! I had to make a good impression. I had to make a team.
“This is the routine you will be expected to do to make it into the cheer team. Remember, over half of you will have to be cut. I truly wish I could keep you all, but we just don’t have enough spots on the team.”
Saige flipped into a handstand, spun around, did 2 backflips, and added many cheerful “Whoop!”s to her routine.
She went back into her starting position, tuck her legs over herself, and pulled herself up.
She made it look so easy! “Alright!” she exclaimed, out of breath, “Who wants to go next?”
I looked at the girl next to me, “I want to go first!”
She sighed dramatically, “Listen newbie, me and my gymnastics team are going to show you how it’s done. Never get your hopes up,” and with that, she rolled her eyes and walked over to her group of friends.
That was mean! I thought. But I couldn’t help but notice that it was true.
I raised my hand high in the air, “I’m ready! I want to go first!”
Saige rolled her eyes too. “Fine. Go ahead, Maryellen,”
I took a deep breath. I felt like my entire life had been leading up to that moment. With my heart full of hope, I sprung to the starting point, and surged upwards into a handstand…
My knees buckled, and I tumped down into an awkward position with my wrist twisting in a strange angle. With a screech, I fell to the ground.
Tears came flooding in. I had failed again. Like every year. I was never going to be a cheerleader. I was never going to be good at anything. I should just stick to being my awkward self.
The girl I had spoken to before shoved me out of the way, and began her flawless routine. I ran away in tears, not looking back.
3 weeks later
I ran across the track, the wind blowing in my hair, a song by fall out boys chorusing through my head to push me forward.
I had done it. I had made the no-cut cross country team.
And I was in 10th place! I couldn’t remember ever being as happy as I was in that moment. The red crossing ribbon was in sight, I could see it in the 110 degree sun!
I ran up to break through it and claim my victory…
I fell over onto my noggin, my feet caught in the ribbon, finally managing to do that handstand.
And piled onto the floor. What a surprise. Nevertheless, I pumped my fists into the humid California air.
Apparently I was supposed to duck under that ribbon, because there is no ribbon for tenth place. Go figure, I guess.