By TAN YEE MING
I LOVE cheerleading and I love coaching. My dream is to one day lead a world championship-winning team.
This year, I made a small step towards realising that dream by coaching Team Malaysia at the International Cheer Union (ICU) World Cheerleading Championships 2013 held on April 25 and 26 in Florida, the United States.
The Cheerleading Association and Register of Malaysia (CHARM) has sent Team Malaysia to compete in various regional competitions, but Malaysia’s debut at the prestigious World Cheerleading Championships was the first time we were up against the very best from around the world.
When the national team tryouts were announced in January, I was looking to put together a team for the All-Girl Group Stunt division, which was not an easy task with so little time.
However, we took each challenge in our stride and completed the tryouts, selecting five talented cheerleaders – Hui Shuen Yee, Rachel Lu, Ong Wei Lee and Renatti Kong-Yueq from team Cyrens, SM Sri Kuala Lumpur, and Theng Kai Yee from team Calyx, SM(J)K Katholik.
I worked hard to get the team in shape for the big day. Time flew by and as we got closer to Worlds, the team started to get nervous. We focused a lot on being mentally prepared for the big day.
Before we knew it, we were flying off to sunny Orlando. We stayed at Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, and it was a dream come true being in Disney World and visiting its theme parks like the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.
Rehearsal day was an inspiring experience too as we got to see amazing teams from all over the world stunting, jumping and tumbling. We made friends with cheerleaders from all over the world – the United States, Mexico, Australia and many more.
On competition day, the atmosphere was electrifying. Seeing the cheerleaders and supporters from all the different countries and cultures coming together to support each other was exhilarating.
Our team was confident and eager to perform their hearts out. I wish I could say I was as confident – I put on the biggest, perkiest smile I could muster but deep inside, I was a huge bundle of nerves. I tried to sound positive when speaking to them since I knew it was important to be calm and confident for the team.
When the time came for me to play the music, my hands were trembling and I had a million thoughts running through my head. Had I prepared the team enough? Did I make any mistakes? Should I have changed the routine?
Well, the team was on the floor, smiling and ready to go. They performed the first section perfectly and I prayed that they would hit everything. Unfortunately, they dropped a stunt and I felt my heart drop along with it. They managed to hit the rest of the routine though, and then they were done. All the hard work and all my mental anguish were over in one short minute.
The team was a little upset about the dropped stunt, but they knew they had done their best and were proud of themselves.
As for me, I kept analysing every possible reason why the stunt had dropped. It was constantly on my mind, and I barely slept that night.
A week later, I realised something, and it’s the same thing I always tell my cheerleaders – if you do your very best, then that’s good enough. I know I did my very best, and it was time to move on. Finishing ninth out of 18 of the world’s best teams was an achievement in itself!
I fully intend to fulfil my dream of coaching a world champion team some day, to see the Malaysian flag flying proudly at the winner’s rostrum and to hear our national anthem playing. I will continue to dream and to believe, and I am sure I will achieve my life’s aspirations one day.