On February 1st, I got the honor to participate in the Cheerleading Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference (KAIAC). It was held at Seoul Foreign School (SFS). Two teams represented Korea International School (KIS), the varsity (level 1) and junior varsity (level 2) cheer teams. I became interested in cheerleading just this year, so I had lots to learn while being in JV cheer. KIS had a grand reputation to hold, being the varsity champions and junior varsity 2nd place holders from last season. This was a big burden on our teams because many stellar cheerleaders last year were all seniors, so they unfortunately graduated.
There were many open spots in the JV cheer team, so most of us were complete novices to cheer. However, I can confidently say that we worked extremely hard to advance in our stunt progression, and our team made a catchy cheer and dance routine that took an unimaginable amount of time and effort. Throughout the season, we had our ups and downs. It felt great to see our improvement, but it was heartbreaking and frustrating when our stunts did not go up properly. We had no idea what other JV teams were coming with, so we just genuinely did what we could. We tried our best.
Both cheer teams needed to come to KIS by 6 AM on KAIAC day. We rode the bus to SFS, and we arrived at around 7 AM. Our coaches, Coach Abel (V) and Horsburgh (JV), needed to attend a meeting with all the other instructors at around 7:30, so we stretched in the meantime. Starting from 8 AM, we had 10 minute intervals to practice in different locations around the school. First we went to the Lyso-Black box to warm up our stunts, then the Multi Purpose Room (MPR) to practice formations and transitions, then the Underwood Activities Center (UAC) 2, back to the Lyso-Black box, and last but not least to the UAC 1. We moved around numerous times according to schedule. We had 10 or 30 minute breaks in between the practice times, so we do not faint even before the performance.
Level two performances started earlier than level one, so after practicing until 10:10 AM, we performed at 10:30. We were all very nervous because it was the first performance for many of us and the audience space was filled with students that went to SFS.
|[Schedule of Cheer teams in different locations, photo taken by manager]
Our performance was solid through the entrance and cheer, but we stumbled on stunts during our dance routine. Two of our thigh stands were not perfectly up, which was the source of our point deductions. However, I personally thought that our spirit, formations, voice, and motions were close to perfect, but stunts were a place we struggled greatly. Our whole team burst into tears following the performance because we all felt so disappointed. We learned to accept the fact that we stumbled like that, and just hoped for the best.
For all level 2 teams, only the top three teams go into finals, and for all level 1 teams, top four teams go into the finals. When the final results were being announced, the varsity and junior varsity teams became a family, where we supported each other no matter the results. They were heartbreaking results for the JV team, but it was a delightful outcome for the varsity team. We were so proud of our varsity team, although it was hard on us because we genuinely worked so hard.
In the end, I learned that it may be obvious that we worked to our maximum, but all the other schools worked equally as much or even more. I realized that the KAIAC placings are not everything to a sport; joining a sport is the process of learning cooperation, acceptance, and sportsmanship. Some people do not recognize cheerleading as a sport, but I want to make it clear that it is equally as arduous as any other. It may not involve as much running or scoring, but it requires a great amount of stamina and determination. Despite all this, KAIAC 2019 was an event of experience, one that I will never forget.
|[Varsity and JV teams waiting for results, photo taken by manager]
|[JV Cheer 2019 after performance, photo taken by manager]
Korea International School
Claire Min firstname.lastname@example.org
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