Cheerleading Championships

To be honest, I was loathing this assignment despite hiding it well. The glittery makeup, the pettiness, the pop music heartthrobs, the exclusivity-- it reminded me my own not-so-distant tomboy high school years of despising the stereotypical American teenage girl.  

A dozen ink acronyms smeared my hand of squads to best represent our company's coverage areas: FR, PR, NH, SF, TJ, etc. After cross-referencing my needed teams with the routine calendar, I began to introduce myself through clouds of hairspray as they prepped for a long day filled with Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" on replay.  

The more groups I mingled with, the more I sensed my misjudgment over the years. But it wasn't until all my work was submitted for print, web and Twitter that I felt the most wrong.

Girls from all over the region expressed their thanks for my willingness to document their most pinnacle "moment." One heart and kissy-face emoji lit up my phone after another. 

They forever melted my heart. 

 From right to left, Jenny Campbell, Haley Pilston, Sam Kolar, Lisa Reddington wait to compete in the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

From right to left, Jenny Campbell, Haley Pilston, Sam Kolar, Lisa Reddington wait to compete in the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

 Butler cheerleader Paige Williams applies lip gloss before competing in the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

Butler cheerleader Paige Williams applies lip gloss before competing in the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

 Hempfield cheerleaders make their way from the warm up area to the competition floor during the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

Hempfield cheerleaders make their way from the warm up area to the competition floor during the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

 Butler cheerleader Jensen Wehrli plays on her phone with her teammates before competing in the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

Butler cheerleader Jensen Wehrli plays on her phone with her teammates before competing in the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

 North Hills fans take a "selfie" before their team competes in the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

North Hills fans take a "selfie" before their team competes in the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

 Hampton competes in the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

Hampton competes in the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

 A ribbon rests on the dance floor as Neshannock competes at the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

A ribbon rests on the dance floor as Neshannock competes at the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

 Hempfield cheerleader Marley Lucas reacts after competing in the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

Hempfield cheerleader Marley Lucas reacts after competing in the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

 Plum cheerleaders Allison Mazur, right, and Nikki Gilboy hug before competing in the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

Plum cheerleaders Allison Mazur, right, and Nikki Gilboy hug before competing in the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

 Bethel Park cheerleader Erin Brown reacts as she is pushed around while waiting for champions to be named at the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

Bethel Park cheerleader Erin Brown reacts as she is pushed around while waiting for champions to be named at the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

 Pine Richland holds hands and with their good luck doll named Parmesan while waiting for champions to be named at the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

Pine Richland holds hands and with their good luck doll named Parmesan while waiting for champions to be named at the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

 Chartiers-Houston cheerleader Jenna Vulcano reacts after winning the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

Chartiers-Houston cheerleader Jenna Vulcano reacts after winning the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

 Hempfield cheerleader Marley Lucas relieves herself after a successful routine competing in the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

Hempfield cheerleader Marley Lucas relieves herself after a successful routine competing in the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.