I’m thrilled to introduce you to one of my favorite authors, Yvette Calleiro, and her new book HYPE! As grandmother to an amazing cheerleader, I’ve seen these young athletes in competition. Yvette, who knows the inner workings of the sport from experience as a coach, draws us into the world of high school cheerleading through Cici’s eyes.
GIVEAWAY: 3 e-book copies of HYPE! Leave a comment below for your chance to win!
Cheerleading – Activity or Sport?
When I was in 8th grade, I joined the JV cheerleading team. Back then, it was about cheering, jumps, and a few small pyramids. As a beginning teacher in 1996, I was asked to sponsor the school’s JV cheerleading squad. Cheerleading was no longer about cute, little cheers and pom poms. It had grown into an athletic competition filled with tumbling, intense stunts, and rigorous routines.
When the Varsity sponsor and I took over our respective teams, there were only girls. We had a JV and a Varsity cheerleading team, but we wanted to combine the best of the best talent to take to competitions. So, we created a competition squad and co-sponsored it. We quickly decided to incorporate some boys on the squad. My co-sponsor was bolder than I and approached a couple of football players about switching sports. She planted the seed, and they came after football season to get a taste. They never left.
That summer, we enrolled the kids in gymnastics classes. They all began learning to tumble and fly when tossed up. Our boys (and one of our girls) learned how to do an awesome (holding a girl in the air with both feet in one hand). We watched these kids become true athletes as they conditioned and strengthened their muscles to handle the routines and stunts that were required for our competition. The practices were long and hard, but they never gave up.
We took them to cheer camp at a local university. There they learned even more skills and techniques, and our cheerleaders got to see the opportunities they could have for cheering in college. We took them to local competitions where they went up against all-star private teams. They lost a few times, but they stayed hungry for more. Finally, we went to Nationals where all their hard work paid off. They became National Champions!
The cheer experiences were amazing, but it had its ups and downs. There was always a bit of drama, which is expected when you are dealing with teens. But the bond they created as a team was beautiful to watch form. I loved seeing the timid and insecure kids on the team blossom into natural leaders.
My co-sponsor and I were always worried about injuries, especially with the tumbling our team did. There were plenty of sore muscles and bruises during practices. We only had one serious injury. One of our flyers (the girls who get lifted up in the air to be on top of the stunts) came down badly and dislocated her elbow. That memory is still vividly embedded in my mind today. I remember going with her to the hospital and comforting her. Luckily, they just popped her elbow back into place, but it kept her on the sidelines for a bit, which she was not happy about.
I only lasted three years as a coach. The almost everyday practices, the nights at the gym, and the weekends at fundraisers were keeping me from going back to school for my master’s degree, so I had to let it go. It was not an easy decision, but I knew the team needed someone who could dedicate more time to them. Still, I hold those memories close to my heart.
In HYPE, the main character is the co-captain of her cheerleading squad. Because of my experiences, I was able to bring to life the practices and the competitions. Here is an excerpt from the story:
Before we know it, it’s our time to perform. Ms. G stands in the coach’s area as we take our places. Our routine starts with a quick cheer which leads into a dance followed by stunts, cheer, dance, and tumbling before ending in a final, complicated stunt.
Our cheer is sharp, loud, and perfect. The music begins, and from that point on, it’s about letting the body do what it’s been trained to do while keeping our expressions fun, energetic, and vibrant. We are the epitome of perfection, and I’m pretty sure everyone hit his or her marks based on the exploding applause in the stands as we perfectly hit our last stunt.
We dismount and head off stage in a professional line as we’ve trained our team to do, but there’s no controlling our excitement once we exit the stadium’s main viewing area. We all jump and scream and try really, really hard not to cry. Ryan meets us outside with his camera since he recorded it all. We watch it quickly as the team after us performs its routine. I see the video three times and can’t find a single area in which we messed up. We were incredible.
Ms. G calls us back in to take our places as the last team gets set up to perform. She whispers to Nicole and me that she’s proud of us. Her expression tells me she isn’t as confident as we are about our win, which makes me replay the video in my mind and begin comparing it with the teams we’ve seen perform. And that’s when the sinking feeling starts to hit me that the Sunset All Stars also performed flawlessly. I try to dampen the doubt creeping into my thoughts and keep the winning smile on my face as the final group performs.
So, when someone tries to place cheerleading as an activity, I strongly disagree. Cheerleading is a sport, through and through, and the season lasts all year. If you enjoyed this sneak peak, I hope you’ll pick up a copy of HYPE to find out whether they won or not. 😉
Yvette M. Calleiro is a heavily addicted reader of both young adult and adult novels. She spends most of her time pseudo-living in paranormal worlds with her fictional friends (and boyfriends). When she’s living among real people, Yvette M. Calleiro is a middle school Reading and Language Arts teacher. She’s been sharing her love of literature with her students for over twenty years. Besides writing about the various characters that whisper (and sometimes scream) in her head, she enjoys traveling, watching movies, spending quality time with family and friends, and enjoying the beauty of the ocean.
Yvette lives in Miami, Florida, with her incredible son who has embraced her love for paranormal and adventurous stories. She also shares her space with an assortment of crazy saltwater animals in her 300-gallon tank.
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Thank you for stopping by today! I have read and loved every one of Yvette M. Calleiro’s books! Get HYPE today! And if you love fantasy, then dive into the Chronicles of the Diasodz, or for a touch of romance with a twist, read Breathless — A Short Story. You’re in for a treat.
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