No one would ever imagine the All Star season would end the way it did. The COVID-19 crisis has affected all of our lives in so many ways. No school, no church, no social gatherings, no gym practices and no end-of-season events, like the 2020 USASF Cheerleading and Dance World Championships. How could this be?
How does an athlete who has spent so many hours — and years — in the gym adjust to having virtual practice;, not being able to have in-person conversations with teammates, coaches or friends, or get that last opportunity to perform on stage?
Why me? Why this? Why now? These are all questions many All Star athletes are probably asking themselves. It isn’t an easy transition or history lesson for anyone, especially teens.
My daughter, a current high school senior, has been an All Star athlete for 14 years. 2020 would have been her 7th year competing at the USASF Dance Worlds. The COVID-19 crisis has caused a huge disruption and disappointment in her life, just like it has for so many others. The most exciting time in All Star for my daughter has just been stripped away. A cherished milestone has been lost, along with prom, graduation ceremonies and more. How does one accept and adjust to a new normal?
Despite the disappointment associated with All Star practices being moved to Zoom calls and canceled and postponed events since mid-March, the USASF has continued to be a great connector for my daughter, and even more so during the COVID-19 crisis. She is a member of the USASF Athlete Advisory Council, which has provided leadership opportunities where she is able voice her opinion and help make important decisions from an athlete’s perspective. She has also taken the opportunity to participate in the USASF Athletes in Action weekly virtual leadership sessions. These weekly calls have united her with other athletes from all regions across the country experiencing the same affliction in their lives. The All Star connection and being able to share many of the same feelings with other athletes who have also worked so hard has helped her adapt to the change. Even though the void will never completely dissipate, being able to share the grieving process with others who love the sport just as much, has helped her realize she is not alone.
Together, she has gained something powerful. She has gained an important awareness about the interconnectedness of our world; about creative solutions to connecting with friends, collaborating with teammates and making important decisions in an unpredictable time; about compassion and sacrifice above what she already knew. She has gained life-long friends.
While our hearts will continue to ache and long for that one last performance, I am grateful for the platform All Star has given my daughter. The confidence to perform and the discipline to become a 4x Dance World Champion has helped her cope during this extremely difficult time. She built resiliency, strength and courage in her 14 years of commitment, often in the face of adversity she has experienced. It was not always easy to go to practice. She did not win every competition. She sacrificed time with friends. She had to learn to balance her time and schoolwork. She experienced many tears of joy and disappointment. Lastly, she will never get to compete on the Worlds stage to experience her last year of dedication come to fruition.
Moreover, these experiences have taught her that disruptions and challenges, like a world-wide pandemic, will continue to happen in life. All Star has helped her realize that life isn’t easy or fair but being able to adapt and overcome these hard moments will help her conquer challenges we all face throughout life.
My heart goes out to all the high school seniors — wishing them the best! For those who have the opportunity to return to your team, I hope this pause in the world of All Star allows you the opportunity to appreciate and grow from the hunger pains of not being able to do what you love.
Thank you to the USASF for your ongoing commitment to providing these enrichment opportunities. Thank you for the lifelong memories and friendships, and for providing great educational resources to All Star athletes and parents.
This is All Star.
Are you interested in contributing to the Parent Connect Newsletter? Contact Sarah Miller Bate at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on sharing YOUR story as an All Star Parent.