The Leader in Cheerleader

Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.

I attempted my first back handspring during Cheer tryouts my freshman year. My legs clumsily guided me across the mat, the momentum of the trick promptly knocking me off-center and, by extension, onto the ground.

When I received a congratulatory email for making the team, I was sure there was a mistake.

I was not an isolated circumstance, and many of my new teammates were left equally puzzled as to how we were accepted. Perceptible since tryouts, there was an obvious disparity between the girls with Allstar training and the girls like us—fresh-faced, doe-eyed, and wildly inexperienced. This discrepancy was considerable and created an implicit social hierarchy that segregated the team.

The hierarchy spurred a culture where gossip became gospel, reputation dominated the cheer mat, and friendships were constructed based on our ability to tumble. We were placed in an environment that whispered words of discouragement into our heads, and our aspirations for improvement were fettered by the judging stares of Varsity.The following season, only two JV girls remained. I decided to stay, not only motivated to advance my skills, but to cultivate change in this hierarchical tradition.

Defying the odds, I became Varsity captain, and could...

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