Scanlon perseveres through injury in cheerleading


Evelyn Esek

Scanlon cheers for both the Baldwin High School sideline and competitive teams.

Alayna Scanlon, Staff Writer

As I moved through the air toward the completion of my round-off back-tuck at the WPIAL Cheerleading State competition, I was feeling good. We started the routine strong and hit all of our skills.

I landed on my feet and immediately felt like something was off. A new pain was shooting from my back into my legs and I could barely stand up. We were only nearing the middle of the routine, but I told myself that I had to finish it for my team and all of the hours I put into practice. 

Right as the routine ended, I started hyperventilating and the realization hit. I couldn’t move properly and began limping off the mat. After clearing the floor with help from my teammates, my coaches came to my aid and helped me back to my seat. 

A couple of hours later, I received the best and worst news possible. Our team had advanced to the semi-finals and would be competing again the next day, but I was in no shape to be doing the routine. 

I found myself being asked if it was possible for me to walk, let alone compete in the hard routine again. I was questioning the future of my cheerleading career that same night and in the end, I knew that performing the routine again was my only option. 

Going to the Chiropractor was something that I wasn’t looking forward to. After checking my back, the doctor explained that I had inflamed muscles in my back. After receiving treatment, stretches, and vitamins, I was back on the mat. 

Things were never the same. The treatment only lasted for so long. I was afraid of tumbling in the routine for weeks. Something was keeping me from throwing my tuck. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, I was scared. 

Doing cheerleading was what I loved. Regardless, I wasn’t sure if it was worth risking my body for. 

A year later, I’m still asking myself the same question. I don’t know what my future in cheerleading looks like, but I’m trying my hardest to move forward. I’m not only doing it for my team, but myself. 

I’m afraid to tell my coaches about how much pain I’m in because I don’t want to let them down. Not having an off-season was stressful because I knew I needed a break, but I had to make it to tryouts. 

I wasn’t sure what led me back to the mat, but now I understand that there was more than one reason. The thrill of performing beside some of my closest friends in stadiums full of people brought me joy.  It gave me energy. I knew that my parents were happy for me too. Cheerleading wasn’t just a sport for me, it was my passion, and I wasn’t willing to give up on that. 

With the State and National competitions coming up, I’m working harder every passing day. At some point in the season, it becomes hard to find replacements in routines, which concerns me even further. No matter what type of treatment I receive, I know that my back will never feel the same as it did before my injury. 

The back injury and several that have followed have me questioning whether I can continue or not. One can only take so many broken fingers, sprained ankles, and pulled muscles. 

The bond that a team holds is one of the strongest, but I constantly question if it’s worth risking my physical health for.