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Excitement, adrenaline, that competitive rush, a little bit of normalcy — all things I was able to feel after a year away from the competitive environment I have grown so used to.

My teams, Famous Superstars Gold (XS Coed 6) and Vanity (Large Coed 5), have been practicing since our tryouts in June 2020 to prepare for the 2021 season. And since the first practice, my coaches, Brian Gravely and Ashley Jones, have been preaching to enjoy every moment, every practice, because it can all be taken away in a heartbeat. That has truly been the motivation for the season after the abrupt end to the 2020 competition season.

Since day one, Famous’s first concern has been the safety of the athletes. Our season has become a possibility due to the determination of the Famous athletes and their families to only see each other.

Jan. 9 was our first in-person competition since the COA competition in February 2020. We were in Cincinnati, Ohio for the Cheer Derby National Championship, and a week later, we competed at the Spirit of Hope National Championship in Atlanta, Georgia. Spirit of Hope was a 2-day competition, which is a rare occurrence this season. Both competitions were extremely organized and took many precautions regarding COVID-19. Masks were worn by spectators, coaches, and by the individuals running the competition. Athletes also had to always wear a mask unless they were on the competition floor.

At Spirit of Hope, which was a much larger competition than Cheer Derby, teams had to meet in one building, then walk outside to another building to get to the warm-up area. This avoided the buildings becoming too over-crowded.

At both competitions, Gold and Vanity were successful. Both teams won their divisions at Cheer Derby and were named Cheer Derby National Champions. At Spirit of Hope, Vanity and Gold won again and were gifted Spirit of Hope champion jackets! Gold received a bid to the 2021 Cheerleading Worlds, and Vanity received a bid to the 2021 Summit.

This was all made possible by the coaches, athletes, and families in Famous who have chosen to remain in our “Famous bubble.” Aside from school and work, we are committed to only seeing each other. Many athletes even chose the distance learning method to avoid exposure at schools. However, these sacrifices have all been worth it to experience the normalcy of competing again.

It is possible to have sports and compete while following COVID-19 restrictions, and my hope is that my gym can be a model for youth and high school sports for the 2021 seasons.

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