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How the Fear of Flying Almost Held Me Back

To my surprise at the end of my senior year UCA camp, my favorite UCA staffer (Dedrick) came up to me at the end and asked me to head to the front to talk to the head instructor. A nervous, 17 year old Arikka, would have done anything for the UCA Staff as I idealized them ever since 7th grade middle school cheer camp in 1995.

As I approached the stage, I was greeted with a big smile as they handed me an application to try out to be a UCA Staffer. I mean WHAT!?! ME!?! I had no idea that was even an option in life…. Over the moon, I accepted the piece of paper and immediately took a picture with the best group of people ever.

Once I got home I immediately told my mom about the application. To be honest I had no idea exact what it all meant but I would soon quickly find out.

Fast forward to tryouts…

As soon as I walked into the tryout building, nervousness took over my body as my starstruck eyes watched all my former UCA Staff members from camps past stretching, talking, and stunting as they too were getting ready to try out as well.

Shiloh (the State Director) pulled us all together to welcome us, talk about the job requirements and give the rundown of the day's schedule. Of course the first part of the tryout was skills assessment which included tumbling, cheer, dance, and stunts.

At this point I was excited to throw my recently learned (2 months) standing and running back-handspring as that was a requirement so I busted my butt to make sure I got it (wink wink). The cheer and dance was a breeze as that was my strongest area. Stunting was awesome as well as I had become an advanced base and back spot on my current team.

Then Carlos (the Regional Director) asked me to do a prep…. (BIG GULP). I had never topped a stunt in my high school cheerleading career. When I was on pop-warren of course I was a top as I was the smallest on the team, and one too many times did I get dropped on “accident.” So I was perfectly satisfied with keeping my feet on the ground and fighting to keep my top girl up (wink to Kelly K.)

I told him that I was not a top but a strong base. Well that was NOT good enough. Not only did Carlos pull in a group of veteran staff boys to perform the skill with me but made it a point to inform me that if I don’t do this stunt I will NOT be considered for staff. I immediately started to cry.

Not just a little tear, but huge crocodile tears, heavy breathing and snot running from my nose. I couldn’t believe it my biggest fear was coming true right before my eyes.Not being able to be on Staff that was not an option for me. The opportunity to train and hang out with the best cheerleaders in the country every summer was something that I could not let a ‘tiny’ prep stand in my way.

With the biggest lump in my throat and my stomach all in knots, I grabbed the shoulders of my bases and jumped in. Once I stood up with eyes full of tears, Carlos looked at me and said “You’re up there now, I don’t know why you are still crying.” As I attempted to stop the flow of water streaming down my face, he called “Cradle!” and the boys swept my feet out from under me.

Once safely back to earth, I could not believe I did it! Still to this day I look back and laugh with Carlos about my tryout. But without me conquering my fear of stunting as a top girl, I would have never had the amazing experience of being on Staff and a part of the Varsity Family for over 15 + years.

The day I got my application at UCA Camp (2001)


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