I was part of an All-Star cheerleading team for three years. I joined because I did not make the team at my high school at the time, but I knew cheerleading was something I wanted to continue. I had been a part of my grade school's team from 4th-8th grade, and couldn't imagine not cheering.

This ended up being one of the best things to happen because instead of cheering mainly for sports games, like most high school teams do, All-Star cheerleading consisted solely of competitions. Those three years of competing were some of the best years of my life, and I miss it often. And here's a list of 10 things anyone who has been a competitive cheerleader can relate to.

1. It is a Sport

This is an argument that you've likely gotten tired of having. People often assume cheerleading is only a sideline event, but you know that's not true.

Cheerleaders are some of the most athletic people out there. They conquer tasks of flipping, lifting people, jumping, and dancing all incorporated into one routine. This rings especially true for competitive cheerleaders, who solely do routines rather than also cheering for sports teams. You probably have even wondered why it's even still called cheerleading if that's not what you are doing at all.

2. It Kept You in Great Shape

Routines are brutal. Even though they only last 2.5 minutes, they are packed with high energy and intense moves. To prepare for this and keep everyone's endurance high, you conditioned heavily during practices. It is also important to increase flexibility and strength, in order to preform the skills involved. I know that I was in the best shape of my life when I did cheer—even my friends used to comment on how strong I was.

3. You Prepped Like You Were Going to Prom

You likely spent hours getting ready for every competition. Your pouf had to be perfect, your bow secured, your excessive glittery makeup applied flawlessly, and everything had to be sprayed and locked in. Although cheer is a high intensity activity, it is also important to look perfect and uniform as a team, and of course, to stand out from far away for the judges. Cheerleaders have to work hard, and also look good while doing it.

4. You Had to Make Sacrifices 

There are many times when practices interfered with social life, but skipping practice was never an option. Even during the summer months when competition season was over, you had regular practices as well as stunt camp and choreography camp. Competitive cheer, like many sports, is highly involved and requires a lot of practice to look as perfect as possible.

5. You've Probably Been Dropped or Kicked

Cheerleading can be dangerous, especially when it comes to stunting. Flyers sometimes are dropped from stunts when they lose their balance and the bases fail to catch them. The bases and backspots also take body parts to the face.

6. Your Bag is Full of Bows and Your Drawers are Full of Comp Shirts

Helaina Cozza

Competitions always have merch and I don't know about you, but I felt the need to buy something at every competition. They also have vendors who sell all types of different designed cheer bows. Although you may not have necessarily worn these bows, you probably bought them anyways to decorate your cheer bag with.

7. You Were Closest With Your Stunt Group

Your team was close as a whole, but the bond of each stunt group is special. You spent a good amount of time each practice perfecting stunts, so you have worked closely with them. Although getting your stunt to hit could be a struggle at times, you were struggling through it together and working through ways to resolve the issues.

8. Nothing Beat Being on the Floor

There's nothing like the energy of a competition, and preforming is one of the most exciting feelings. Your team was a bundle of nerves before hitting the mat. But once the music started and you began your routine, you put on a show. Being on the competition floor was one of my favorite feelings in the world.

9. You Loved to Show Off for Your Non-Cheer Friends

Helaina Cozza

You worked so hard all year for it, so of course you wanted your non-cheer friends to see what all your hard work and time went into. I always loved bringing my friends to my competitions so they could see a part of my life that they were not a part of. It's fun showing the competitive cheer world to people who aren't in it.

10. You Miss it Like Crazy

I think about my cheer days all the time and I always look back on them fondly. Although there were many tough practices and sacrifices made, it was all so worth it, and I wish I could go back in time to relive it again. Cheer was one of the best parts of my life, and once you're a cheerleader, you'll never lose that part of you. 

Anyone who has ever cheered competitively can relate to other former competitive cheerleaders. Whether you're watching a cheerleading TV show, stalking former teammates on social media, or reading an article online about cheerleading, you'll feel something inside that takes you back to some of the hardest, but most rewarding days.