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What it’s like being an alternate

What its like being an alternate
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Pictured above: Mariah Washington

   Every team has one of the same beginnings, tryouts, and then you make the team or you don’t. Or you are just automatically on the team without any tryouts. Except one of the differences is for a competitive team, there has to be a plan B, or as coaches and athletic directors call it: alternates. Now, nothing against coaches or athletic directors.  If they hadn’t made the rule that there could be alternates, then I wouldn’t be on a team right now. 

   I am on varsity poms, and I am an alternate. You see, sometimes I feel embarrassed to say that to people because it feels like they will think that I didn’t actually make the team, but I promise I did. The reason I am writing this article is to show just how hard an alternate on a dance team actually works. 

   When you first get on the team, it’s not weird, where you feel like you’re an extra. You do all the games, assemblies, fundraisers and really everything else. Except once you hit competition season, everyone is in competitive mode, and if you’re an alternate on a dance team, you are in the back, very back. 

“ At the beginning it was kind of boring being in the back, but after a while I realized how important we are,” says Emily Rodifer, sophomore. You learn the dance just like everyone else, but you just don’t have a spot in the routine.

The more practices that happened and the more I did the dance awkwardly in the back, the more I got used to it. I’m starting to find it comfortable. I am not being yelled at when I am in the wrong spot or when I don’t hit my turns for the 5th time in a row. Don’t get me wrong; I still work my butt off and go to all the outside dance classes we have to attend and pay attention.

   However, where it really gets hard is when someone isn’t at practice or is sick and you’re thrown in. All of a sudden I am in the dance, and gosh, it feels great to be put in, but the part that doesn’t feel great is when you don’t know that teammate’s part, but you know the part of the person next to you.  “ It feels really stressful just to be put in when someone is out, but at least I get a chance to show my coach that I am working hard and trying to get better,” says Emily Rodifer, sophomore.

So, I am put in, and I am figuring out what this person that is missing does in the dance, and I am finally getting it. I know where I go in formations and I have been hitting my turn sections, but then the person comes back, and I am in the back again, basically invisible to everyone. Now, this happens multiple times throughout the season- someone isn’t there, and I or the other alternate is thrown in.

   At points it feels like I am doing all of this work: learning everybody’s part in the routine, going to outside classes, being put in and trying to make it seem like I know what I am doing when I actually have no idea. All this work, and it seems like not a single person notices, but I didn’t write this story so after everyone reads they start coming up to me and saying I really appreciate all the work you do. 

   No, I am writing because as you can see being an alternate is a lot of hard work and sometimes you feel like you aren’t being seen. However, the second that a teammate gets hurt or sick, the alternate is extremely crucial. So, if you are on a team with an alternate and they help you out, take a moment to say thank you. If you are a fan, and you notice the alternate in the back of a dance routine, or the player sitting on the bench, remember that they are working just as hard as everyone else.

Mariah Washington, Staff Reporter

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What it’s like being an alternate