TCT’s The Countless Thanks: Sydney Race

Sofia Hargis-Acevedo – for being my other half in the most literal sense of the definition

What a time we have both been through. Over the past few years, we have grown closer and closer, and at this point, we are basically the same person. We can’t survive the school day without one another, nor can we go only a few hours without talking. I’m grateful that I can FaceTime you at almost any given time and you’ll pick up to hear the most absurd things. Seriously, I don’t understand how you haven’t blocked me on everything after the weird drama, facts, story times, and news I have. You are my go-to for everything—first editor, Word Hunt player, the person I, again, tell everything to. Even though I don’t understand your beef with key lime La Croix and lemon Luna bars, I still love you, nonetheless.

I remember how we said that we’d hang out over the summer a lot. We never did—oops. Despite being friends for years, we don’t have sleepovers or hangouts as much as we should. The last one we had, however, resulted in us crying. You were on my blow-up air mattress, and I was smushed in between your bed frame and the edge of said air mattress. We cried to Adele, “Solo” and “Godspeed” by Frank Ocean, Harry Styles, and I don’t even remember the rest. It was the day after my last cheer game, but you still out-cried me.

Thank you for always being the little sparkle of chaos and laughter in my life, and thank you for not leaving after all these years. From dance, old friendships, and that one time I dropped you on your head in the fifth grade, I’ve realized I literally can’t operate without you. You are, truly, my other half, and I can’t be any more grateful about our ever-growing bond.

Lauren Batterbee – for being the best hallway high-fiver FHC has ever seen

Less than six months ago, we met for the first time. We burned homework on the last day of school and went around the backyard with sparklers. After that quick hour we were together, throughout the summer, I remembered our small and informal introduction because of the little things that happened that night—burning popcorn over a fire, French, lightning bugs. When the school year started up again, sometime between the first day and now, we both decided to high-five each other every time we see each other in the halls. It makes my usually unbearable day happier. Who knew a simple high-five in between periods could make me feel a little better? Thank you, Lauren, thank you so, so, so much for not forgetting me after the first night we met. 

Jessie Warren – for being a goddess that shares a similar love for key lime La Croix

Jessie, I hardly know her?

I’m kidding. She’s that one girl that I send screen recordings of Tutu hogging the trampoline in my Cats&Soup game! I’m kidding, again. She’s more than just that. You’re a talented, brilliant, shining star that glimmers so bright, my mood completely shifts. In such a dark world, your light is visible from the millions of beams that glow hues of yellow and shades of pink. No matter if I’m feeling down or half-awake walking to first hour, you always brighten my day a little. If I have a problem, you’re somebody who helps me through it—lifts me up. When you graduate in the spring, I have no idea what I’ll do. It will feel so empty without your energy reaching out and hugging mine.

Jessie, you’ve helped me grow in the best way possible, and you aren’t just the one other person I know who loves key lime La Croix.

Heather Jaze – for cutting my hair over my backpack in fifth hour

Thank you for sacrificing your love life for my hair. After I cut it, you were the first person to tell me that I did a messy job cleaning up the ends. I did, and I don’t think there’s ever a dull moment in French with you. Cutting my hair with school scissors over my open backpack was definitely one of them, but so was the candid photo of you and Sophie that I photoshopped random backgrounds onto. The one with Spencer from iCarly is still my favorite. Whenever I need something, you’ve got me, and whenever I need a good laugh, you always have something to say. I’m glad we met at the beginning of the summer because if we hadn’t, then the nights at Rachel’s house would’ve never existed, more specifically, the night we took a family photo. Please do French 3 next year. Please. French wouldn’t be the same without you.

Sydney Fentzke – for helping me survive Chemistry

We are the Syd duo in both second and third hour. My go-to chem lab partner and the other Syd at Table Syd. If I ever have a question about something, I go to you. If I just want to complain about something, I go to you. If it weren’t for Mr. George’s Honors English 10 class, I don’t know if we would have actually become friends. The transcendentalism project was so fun—painting the tile and the shirts. We just sort of get each other’s vibe, and I love it. Thank you for helping me with chemistry answers, and thank you for being the sweetest in third hour.

Rachel Buchholz – for making my ribs hurt on FaceTime from laughing

To the funniest person I know, this is one of many “thank yous” I will say. We went from being friends to hating each other to being friends again. A little rocky, but I don’t care. I literally don’t care that we hated each other for a good year, but I do care that we made an effort to become friends again. Who would I play Bed Wars with? Who would send me Dozer pictures? Who would I be laughing at accents with in the car?

Now, our bond is the funniest thing ever, but in a good way. It’s so strong that you took me on my first ever spring break to Myrtle Beach where we were in a constant state of hysterics in the hotel room. That whole trip was the best one to date; thank you for dealing with me for a week. Thank you for dealing with me on a regular basis, actually. FaceTimes wouldn’t be the same with you. I mean, I wouldn’t be laughing as hard as I do now without the reconnection of our bond.

Allie Beaumont – for supporting me on and off the mat

Whenever I think about you, Allie, all I can think of is how you’re just the sweetest flower in the field. You encourage every one of our teammates to be their very best, and you don’t ever give up on us. You’re fearless and determined, and I want you to know that I envy your strength. You comforted the team when we were at our lowest, and you stepped up to make everyone on staff feel welcomed—like we’re a family. Thank you, Allie, for never giving up. I admire your talents both at cheer and in room 139. We both stopped doing the one thing we loved, but I’m more than lucky to still have you there, every day, to bring joy into my grey life. Love you more than words can speak, Allie, and I’m immensely grateful that you’re in my life.

Hannah Levering – for sending me cat TikToks 

Oh, Hannah, my favorite back spot. Your buzzing personality is something I’m thankful for—and, of course, the cat TikToks. I’ve already seen most of them, but it never hurts to see them again. We didn’t hang out that much over break besides cheer, but going to your birthday party this summer was so fun. Sliding down the mound, however, wasn’t fun, but hanging out with some people that I didn’t really know was a highlight. I’ve met some incredible people through you, and I’ve learned so much just by being your friend. We’ve watched each other grow over the years, and I wouldn’t trade our friendship for anything.

Autumn VanSolkema – for being my favorite freshman

Seriously, you’re my favorite freshman. I’ve seen your growth in skills and stunts as the season progressed, and whether you see it or not, you have so much potential. Your bubbly personality brings so much joy to the team, and you know what, I consider varsity and JV the same team. At the end of the day, you’ve impacted not only everyone on varsity but my life as well. Just saying “Hi” to you in the halls makes me feel a little better. Your uplifting presence makes me smile, and I’ll miss cheering with you this season. Love you a lot, Autumn.

Meggie Kennedy – for making the atmosphere happier when it’s the opposite

Meggie, your columns make me feel some different type of way. If there was ever the biggest fan, it would be me. How you craft and articulate them is indescribable. Anyways, sixth hour wouldn’t be as fun without you. No matter what, you put a smile on all of our faces by being the sweet, sweet Meggie. You’re always smiley, and because of that, I’m smiley when I talk to you. You care about us and what we have to say. Every little action you do is the opposite of harmful, and I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.

Emma Bennett and Shelby Rogalski – for never leaving me after I left Comstock

I can’t stress enough how much I miss you both. Our trio in Mrs. Papperella’s is one that I miss so so much. The friendship we had at Comstock was the best, and as a kid, you are what made my life before Forest Hills Central so special. Taylor Swift, birthday parties, and Halloween are just a few memories that made seven-year-old Sydney feel like she was living in the wildest dream. After my move, I’ve only seen you two a few times. I miss it. I miss everything. I want to move back just to be with you two because here, it isn’t the same. We live thirty minutes away, and that’s thirty minutes too many. We have busy lives to live, and there is just no right time to be together, now. My young life wouldn’t have been so perfect if it weren’t for you two, and for that, I thank you.

Emma, we have been friends since kindergarten. Somebody said something about liking a backpack, and eleven years later, we are still friends. That’s funny how strong friendships can stem from the little things. I remember being hypnotized by your toy room and all the smiley faces. Not only that, listening to Speak Now and Red on repeat before I left is what made me have such a grasp on music today. Even though we were in different classes, we would wait for each other on the playground just to see each other. The year I left, I had nobody to wait for. I had nobody to really play with, actually. It was a totally new terrain, and all I wanted was to play with you and Shelby.

Shelby, I remember the first day you moved to Comstock. You had just moved from Texas, and our table was all in your business with questions about it. As mean as some little kids can be, I’m lucky that Emma and I weren’t like it. If we were mean, I wouldn’t have met you: somebody I will forever remember as my best friend. When you asked if I’d like to go to Cadillac, Michigan, with you, I vividly remember thinking that this friendship was a true friendship rather than a recognizable face. I was scared after I moved that I’d never talk to you again. I cried and cried and cried. I was going to miss my best friends. Thank you for never forgetting me. I love you and Emma more than any adjective in the English language, and we need to hang soon.

Sophie Erickson – for telling me Roscoe looks like fancy cheese

Never in my life did I think somebody would tell me my cat looks like fancy cheese. In addition, I didn’t think anyone would say he feasts on cheese fuel, or whatever that means. Sophie, you’re Roscoe’s number one fan (not including me) and never fail to tell me how fat the beast is. I have never laughed harder at a reply to my private story in my life, and that’s a fact. There were actual tears in my eyes from being in hysterics, and I am not kidding. Other than making me go insane over a cat comment, you understand my sense of humor. If I were to tell anyone that they looked like a sixth-grade highlighter kid, they’d probably punch me in the face. Thank you for not doing that. I know our humor is simply esoteric; I just want you to know that you’re my favorite short person. I’ll miss cheering on the mat with you a lot, but at least we’re seated next to each other in French. Our little group in the back is the funniest part of my day even though I’m barely alive after lunch. Anyways, I appreciate you, Soph Dawg, for not just telling me to shut up.

Avery Jordan, Natalie Mix, and Emma Zawacki – for all the hard work you do for staff

All of your hard work is seen, but I feel like sometimes, it doesn’t get acknowledged. Without any of your help or guidance, staff would just be trembling like little chihuahuas. We’d be so lost. Your understanding of not only journalism, but also our lives, in general, makes life a little easier for us. Writing an almost 3,000-word story is definitely not the right way to repay you all, but what I want you to take away from this little section is that we all appreciate you very much. From critiques to the revisions on stories to the fun atmosphere you’ve created to help us thrive, there is so much that I love you all for.

The French Girlie Pops group chat – for telling me when quizzes are and when projects are due

You are all lifesavers. The amount of times I’ve asked, “When’s the quiz?” is embarrassing, but I’m beyond grateful that somebody is at least paying attention. Not only does my grade thank you, but I thank you all for dealing with the stupid stuff I say and ask. The seating arrangement in that class is probably the best it will ever get because in the first one, we were all strewn across the room. Now, we’re close, yet we still aren’t the craziest energies in the room. I can’t thank you enough for the innumerable amount of dumb questions and silly remarks I’ve made in this group chat using a zero as a replacement for the letter “o.”

By the way, when is the next IPA?

Norah Schaafsma – for simply dealing with me every day at eight in the morning

I don’t even know how you deal with me half awake, half asleep, and half present in first hour. I’ve only been up for less than an hour, and you, Norah, still manage to be a friendly face. Now that we’re sitting next to each other again, I can just turn my head and tell you anything. You know, turning my head and saying something out-of-the-blue to you makes me feel like I’m welcomed in a class of people that don’t want to be there. Thank you for helping me get my day started off better. I’m happier than ever, now that I have somebody who never fails to make me laugh, smile, and feel a little bit better about sitting in a class with uncomfortable chairs at eight in the morning.

My stunt group, the Alpha Dogs (Sophie Kovachevich, Kyra Thomas, and Kate Sherman) – for not getting mad at me for making the weirdest noises somebody could make

Remember that one day at cheer camp when we were the only ones that didn’t have a stunt group so we made our own? I do. Do you remember how no less than 24 hours later, our “leftovers” group was now stunting in the last day’s performance? I do. Do you remember how less than a month later, our “leftovers” group was hitting chiropractor cupies? I do, and I wish that I could still be in our group. Now that cheer is in my past with no clear return in my future, I miss Alpha Dogs–arguably, the best name a stunt group could have. Kyra, thank you for being my height. I always was put in as a base in a random group because I’m not flyer material, but I’m also not back spot material. Also, thank you for letting me grunt and make noises that just shouldn’t come out of somebody’s mouth. Kate, oh Kate, the group wouldn’t be as lively as it was without you. No matter what circumstance we were in, you always helped Alpha Dogs push through and encouraged us to look on the brighter side of life. Thank you for letting me snarl “Pull up!” at you, and thank you for not letting Sophie drop on my head. Sophie, one of the most engaged flyers that I have ever flown. You were willing to do anything we wanted, and you feared very little. As a base, it really helps because if your flyer is scared, then we, as a group, are screwed. Other than the bruises on my non-existent biceps, thank you for having your head in the game and letting us throw you into the air.

Without any of you, Alpha Dogs would not have existed, and I would probably be crying more than I do because I would have nobody to stunt with.

Natalie “Roo” Telman – for just being Roo

Oh, Roo, I don’t know what I can do to show my appreciation for the high you gave me in middle school cheer. There are so many unforgettable memories, like mini bagel mornings, three laps, Cameron, and the one time we ran into each other at the Starbucks in the Knapps Corner D&W and aggravated (probably) the workers. The first time we met was at Jenison High School the summer before the seventh grade at a cheer “camp.” You were my flyer for some time during the camp, and you were talking about how your tortilla chips were making you crazy. Fast forward a year and a half and, here we are, competing on the mat for the very last time together, on the same team. You go to Eastern, and I go to Central. Since the competition at Mason High School, we have been separated, and it makes me sad every time I think about it. Fast forward a year and a half from that competition, and here I am, writing about how I wish we didn’t go to different schools, but I’m lucky that I got to finish middle school cheer with you. I miss your energy, but I am lucky that I was in your presence in the first place. I miss your on-deck pep talks, but I am lucky that you uplifted my spirits. I miss you, but I am the luckiest person that I know for you being Roo, my sidekick.

My third and fourth graders I coached this year – for keeping me entertained and busy at all times

Rambunctious, determined, and amiable, each and every single one of you are. Every Tuesday night at practice, you all showed up ready to learn new chants and stunts while still having the time of your lives. We always said that we’d make you condition, but as a fifteen-year-old who can’t do five push-ups without giving up, it would be a little hypocritical of me to let that happen. At every single practice and game, I tried to make it evident that we all love and care for you, but if it wasn’t clear enough, here is my final spiel.

I never thought third and fourth graders would be the ones to force me—challenge me—into thinking a little differently. In a good way, of course. When I initially signed up to be a coach, I didn’t have too much experience with kids. I am the oldest in my family by a minute, so I never had a younger sibling to look after when there was nobody to watch them. I never was interested in babysitting, nor was I too enthralled with the idea of going to a random person’s house and making sure they don’t destroy anything. In fact, being a kid myself was the only experience I had. So, when I found out I’d be your coach for the season, I was beyond stoked, but at the same time, I was a little nervous because, after all, I was always the one being watched, and it was never by a babysitter.

You all helped me learn while I taught the building blocks of cheer: what a jump is, how to kick properly, what “half” and “hurdler” mean, and what it truly means to be a cheerleader. I remember being in the same exact situation when I was little, and I envy your strength and grit; you all never gave up. So, to all my “Creative Weirdos,” thank you, dearly, for being the best team both on the mat and on the track!

– Coach Sydney

My wonderful teammates that coached third and fourth grade with me, Mia Young, Kate Sherman, and Paulina Diesen – for keeping each other sane every Saturday morning

Coaching elementary girls to stunt, jump, kick, and chant was definitely an experience, to say the very least. Would I trade it for anything else? No. Would I trade the friends that helped me get through it? No. With every little road bump and spill of drama, somehow, we made it through the season, and we came out of it intact, nonetheless. When we were making each award for our sweet group of girls, it was the most fun I’ve had in a while. I remember us admiring the collection of ArtPrize posters on Paulina’s wall and almost losing Kate in the candy sections at Walmart. That Saturday, we were a little late to their game, but it’s all okay. We had an entire bag of Blow Pops, and I had my Dr. Pepper Cream Soda, so, in the end, it was okay (kind of). Minus the few—maybe—irritated parents, I couldn’t be any more proud of all of us. We went from being coached by high schoolers to being the high schoolers coaching in just a few years. I love you all, and Kate, you better visit us someday when you graduate

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