Thursday was the night that I have been looking forward to since I made this team: the first practice. Not only was this going to be my first practice as an Atlanta Falcons Cheerleader, it was going to be my first practice as a rookie.
During the past two months, the squad set practice times amongst ourselves to prepare eight sidelines and about 15 fillers for Thursday. Sideline routines are each about a minute long, and fillers consist of between two and four eight-counts of fun and sharp dance moves. I am proud to say that I have not missed any of these practices, but that does not mean that I was fully confident in myself Thursday.
I was about 45 minutes early and was not surprised to see a handful of my teammates practicing inside a racquetball court room with my wonderful captain, Shamea M. It was a great feeling to know that my fellow rookies are dedicated and determined to know the material, and it was fantastic to know that our captains are always willing to help.
While on the topic of our captains, we have four wonderful ladies that represent the leadership and talent that this team stands for: Brandy K., Shamea M., Margaret M., and Zorah B. They sat us down and had an informative yet laid-back "rookie 101" meeting on what is expected of our rookie class. They were open to feedback and questions and were extremely helpful in making us feel comfortable and welcome.
Once our choreographer, Jakene Ashford, and our coach, Chato Waters, arrived, it was time to buckle down and practice.
We set up in our respective lines and ran through all of our filler material. We were encouraged to smile and use our strengths in the choreography to our advantage. I fumbled on a few of the newer fillers, but I immediately put myself in "focus mode" and was able to pick myself back up and move forward.
I feel as if my teammates have done the same, as well. As soon as they were given a correction, they fixed it immediately and kept smiling. I know that this particular positive attitude will continue throughout the season.
Post-practice was relaxed and fun. My "shortie" line stayed behind to go over the material a little longer. We all planned to meet twice (with our captain) before Tuesday's practice so we can perfect everything and be confident in our material.
Shamea summed up the practice perfectly.
"Tonight was a great opportunity to get rid of the bugs and really get used to having our coach and choreographer watching us," she told the rookies.
After hearing our captains and our coach give us beneficial feedback, my rookie class will for sure come prepared on Tuesday as well as the rest of the AFC practices this season!