Freshman Addy Richards found a family in her favorite sport

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Freshman Addy Richards (right) and her friend Mia Young (left) posing on the Ada Covered Bridge

If life came with a remote and was able to be rewinded into the past, you’d see a smaller version of freshman Addy Richards walking across the balance beam in a colorful leotard and a smile on her face. 

Addy spent a four year chunk of her life dedicating herself to gymnastics. She mastered everything from cartwheels to the splits and spent her days after school in the gym full of children just like her.

After a few years, something else caught Addy’s eye, and she hasn’t looked back since. 

“I first started in gymnastics,” Addy said. “I did it for about four years, and then I did sideline cheer, and then I ended up at All Star Cheer.”

From her spot on the gymnastics mat, she could see children her age tumbling across the very same mat and it sparked her interest. She decided she wanted to be able to do the same sorts of stunts these kids were doing, and once her mind was made up, nothing stopped Addy from moving forward at full speed.

“One day, I was at gymnastics, and there was a little cheer program,” Addy said, “and I thought it looked fun because they were stunting and stuff. I just wanted to do that because it looked cool.”

And while Addy hasn’t looked back from her transition from gymnastics to cheerleading, that doesn’t mean the sport has come without its fair share of challenges and difficulties.

I just love how our whole team is like a family. We’re all like sisters.”

Being a freshman in high school means Addy has had to learn how to balance her time. Between friends, family, cheer, and school, she has a completely full plate this year, and COVID-19 hasn’t made things any easier.

With her love and dedication to cheer comes a huge time commitment. Between the competitions, practices, and team bonding, Addy has had to learn how to effectively split her time. 

“[The hardest part has] probably [been] managing school and going to competitions and practices,” Addy said. “Just time management.”

Despite what some people may think, cheerleading is a sport that takes determination, resilience, and hard work. For Addy, competitions make all the sweat and time worth it.

That feeling of nailing a stunt on stage in front of judges or winning a trophy with some of her closest friends by her side are her favorite parts of the sport. These are the moments that make it all worth it for her.

“All the competitions [are] all different and a fun experience,” Addy said.

While she enjoys all of the competitions, her favorite has to be the ones that take her to Florida. 

These competitions combine some of the best parts of her sport—her teammates and the competitions—with sunny Florida weather making it feel like a fairytale. 

Another of Addy’s favorite parts of cheerleading are the girls on her team. 

The girls on this team spend a large sum of time together throughout the week, and it’s no surprise that they’ve developed unforgettable friendships and a family-like bond.

They share memories of Florida weather they enjoyed while traveling for a competition. They all lived through their first time standing upon a stage while being handed a trophy to commemorate their victory. They all witnessed the first time they pulled off a particularly difficult stunt and the feeling of pride that washed over them all.

These moments made these girls a family, and Addy adores their relationships with each other and the memories they all share.

“I just love how our whole team is like a family,” Addy said. “We’re all like sisters.”