Categories > Original > Drama0 Reviews
A girl is handeling stress from cheerleading, her parents, and school.
By Kate Walter
"Stop shaking! How do you expect me to stay up here when it feels like there's an
earthquake under me?" Jo yelled without looking down.
"Stop complaining! We're doing the best we can." Beth yelled up to her.
Jo's muscles rippled with the effort it was taking her body to stay so tight. Every shake
she combated with an even tighter mid section. Her muscles ached.
Jo steadied herself. She held her entire body rigid as their hands shook under her. She
put her arms out to her sides and raised her leg. She held her arabesque perfectly, despite how
unsteady and unreliable bases held her. Her back arched beautifully, and she held herself
perfectly steady. Her arms were at a perfect 180 degree angle. She looked beautiful and natural
even though she was ten feet off the ground. She looked to her side and smiled.
"Cradle! One two!" Christina called.
Jo whipped her body around so fast that she had made a full rotation before she even
began to descend into their arms.
"Jo! Why did you do that?" Liz, her other base, yelled as she set Jo out of her arms.
"I felt like doing a full down. It went fine." Jo said. She walked towards her bag for her
water and squirted some into her mouth.
"Jo! We had no idea that you were going to do that! That could have been dangerous."
Beth walked towards her.
"Guys! We have a competition in three weeks. We need all the practice we can get." Jo
sat down on the cushioned floor. Her calf muscle clenched and tightened visibly. She ran her
hands over the muscle, trying to calm it down. She closed her eyes in pain, willing herself not to
"Jo, what if we hadn't given you enough of a pop?" Liz asked.
"Then I wouldn't have done a full down. Liz, it's not like I'm new at this. It went fine,"
she looked up at their concerned faces. "Fine. I won't ever do it again. Happy?"
Their faces relaxed slightly. As they walked away, Christina looked back at Jo. She
slightly smiled, but then turned away when Liz started talking to her. Jo could tell by the look on
Liz's face that she was going to tell Coach about the full down.
Jo leaned against the wall. She felt bad about scaring her bases; especially Christina. She
thought for a moment. She realized that her relationship with Christina had deteriorated over the
past year. Her stomach tightened and she felt sick. She realized she barely even spoke to her
best friend anymore.
"Jo! Come here." Coach Kissinger yelled to Jo. Her eyes slightly narrowed and her
lips pressed in to a tight line.
"Yes Coach?" Jo arrived at her side.
"That was a good full down." She raised her eyebrows at Jo.
"But I know your stunt group didn't know you were going to pull it."
"They didn't, but Christina never calls full downs. We need to have it perfected
for state in three weeks, but we never practice it, so I decided to take matters into my own
"Well, when you feel like the stunt is stable enough, tell your bases you want to do a full
down. Don't just do it."
"All right Coach." Jo smiled.
"Bring it in girls!" Coach yelled, and the squad game together in a huddle.
Jo took a deep breath in. The smell of sweat and deodorant filled her nostrils. She hated
the sweat, but knew it meant her team mates were practicing hard. She lived for cheerleading.
"Good practice today! Tomorrow, practice from one to four PM." Groans went around
the circle. "Yes, I know it's Saturday, but we want to win state, right?"
"RIGHT!" The girls screamed in unison.
"All right! See you tomorrow."
The girls broke apart and grabbed their bags. Jo groaned to herself. She had planned on
catching up on the homework and studying that she had skipped out on the past few weeks due to
practices. She knew her grades were falling, and she didn't know what to do about it.
"Jo! What are you doing tonight?" Christina called after Jo.
"I'm going to catch up on some homework, maybe study a little bit for the ACT."
"All right. I was just hoping we could maybe hang out. We haven't gotten to talk in a
while. I guess, call me if you get bored. We can go get ice cream or something." Christina
"All right. Thanks."
"Jo, I've been meaning to ask for a few weeks now, are you okay?" Christina walked with
Jo to her car.
"Yeah, I'm okay. I'm just a little stressed out. I've been putting off a lot of homework
because of practice." Jo unlocked her car door.
"Okay, me too. We can study sometime if you want, if you're having trouble I can help
"Thanks Chris." Jo hugged her. "I'll try to call you if it's not too late when I finish."
"All right," Christina smiled concernedly at Jo. "Don't work yourself too hard."
"I'll try not to." Jo got in her car. She felt a little bit better knowing that her best friend
still cared about her.
Jo unlocked her house door, and walked inside. Her parents were sitting at the kitchen
table, having a drink before they went out to dinner.
"Hey Jo." Her dad smiled at her.
"How was practice?" Her mom asked.
"It was fine. I have practice from one to four tomorrow."
"How are you going to get any homework done? You have your ACT class on Sunday
afternoon?" Her mom asked.
"I'm going to go work on some right now."
"All right, just remember, this year is the most important year of school for you." Her dad
"Dad. I know. You tell me every day." Jo walked away from her parents and down the
hall to her room.
She dumped her cheer bag on her bed, and found her back pack. She pulled out her trig
book and sat down to do a month's worth of homework.
Three hours later, Jo had gotten through all but three assignments of her trigonometry
homework. The studying for her physics test hadn't gone as well as she hoped. She didn't
understand a few equations. There was no time in her day on Monday to see her teacher either.
Her stress piled on again. The three page paper she had written wasn't nearly as good as it could
have been, and there was definitely a lot of editing to be done. Nonetheless, she was proud of
It was 10:30 PM on a Friday night, and she had just completed over ninety percent of the
homework she had put off.
She sat back in her desk chair and closed her eyes. She felt like a little weight had been
lifted off her chest. She had been putting this homework off for what felt like months, and it was
catching up with her.
Jo opened her eyes and her gaze landed on a recent history progress report. The report
said she currently had a C in the class. The spread sheet was riddled with blanks, mostly
homework assignments. She held back a yawn, and pulled out her history text book.
Once she was finished with her history homework, she got ready for bed. Even though it
was almost midnight, she decided to set her alarm for 8:30 AM. She figured she could get a little
ACT studying in.
Jo arrived at practice the next morning, five minutes early. Her coach was already there
and she sat down next to her.
"Hey Jo. How was your night?" Coach Kissinger looked up from her calendar.
"Okay, I caught up on homework."
"Were you behind?" Coach asked.
"A little. But I'm mostly caught up."
"That's good. You know if you need to be late to practice to study that's fine. School
work comes before cheerleading." Coach put her forms away in her folder and turned to face Jo.
"I know Coach. But I can handle it. I guess I'm just a little stressed out. It doesn't help
that my parents are riding me all the time about college and stuff like that."
"That's what parents are for. If you feel like it's getting out of hand though, you can talk
to them and tell them what they're doing. They may not know how much pressure you're putting
"I think they know, but I don't think they think it's a bad thing. They never see how
stressed out I get myself. It gets really bad. Sometimes I'm seriously on the verge of breaking
down because I've stressed myself out to the point where I can't even think anymore. It's
"Have you ever thought about seeing a psychologist?" Coach asked.
"I thought about asking my parents if they could take me to one."
"Maybe that's a good idea. And if you need me to talk to them I can. I see how you
stress yourself out, Jo."
The door to the gym slammed open and the voices of the girls starting to arrive echoed off
the walls. Jo got up from the floor and walked over to her cheer bag, getting a drink of water.
She put her arms over her head and stretched. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted off
her shoulders. Jo smiled, and threw herself in to a back handspring. Her wrists didn't ache and
her legs didn't cramp. She landed the move perfectly. She knew she could talk to her parents
about seeing the doctor. She felt confident enough to confront them.
"Mom, Dad, can I talk to you?" Jo sat in one of the hard rolling chairs at her kitchen
counter. She bit her lip as her parents sat down next to her.
"What's wrong Jo?" Her Dad's face was full of concern.
"I think sometimes I get a little too stressed out." Jo didn't meet her parent's eyes.
"Jo, everyone gets stressed out." Her mom looked distracted already.
"No, Mom. I'm not kidding. I think I get so stressed out that it's not normal. Can I
maybe see a doctor?"
"Jo, what are you talking about? You're fine. You never seem stressed out when you're
around us." Her dad looked at her. His brow furrowed deeper and his worry lines became more
"I can hide it pretty well. You can ask anyone. Ask my friends, Coach. Coach said she
would vouch for me. She knows how stressed out I am. I talked to her today. Please, just let me
go see a doctor. Maybe a doctor can give me medicine, or help me work on it."
"Why are you stressed?" Her mom was starting to give her a little more attention.
"Because I have a lot of pressure on me right now. I have state coming up, I have to do
well in all of my classes because it's my junior year, and also I have to keep you guys happy.
There's an unbelievable amount of pressure on me from you guys. I feel like I constantly have to
be perfect. I always have to know the answer to everything. You want me to know what colleges
I want to go to, or at least what colleges I want to see. It's hard. All I want to do is make you
"Jo, I can't believe you'd think that. You are perfect in our eyes no matter what." Jo's
mom's eyes were shining with tears. Her dad moved closer and wrapped his arm around her.
"We're sorry for making you feel like that. We'll take you to a doctor." Her mom hugged
her and Jo leaned into the hug, enjoying the feeling of being loved by her parents.
"Will you guys stop putting so much pressure on me too?"
"Yes sweetie. We'll stop. I didn't realize we were being so bad about it. If we had, I
know we would have stopped." Her dad stood up and hugged her too.
"Thank you. I feel better already."
"So, Jo. Why are you here today?"
"Because I think I get too stressed out over little things." Jo avoided eye contact.
Dr. Alperstein looked over his glasses at Jo. "What do you mean?"
Jo's eyes wandered across the bookshelves that lined the room from the floor to the
ceiling. Some of the books had novel like titles, and others were books on specific mental
The carpet had a dark red hue to it, and the couch she sat on was a deep black leather. The
room was beautiful. It was distracting, yet relaxing at the same time. It made her feel at home.
"I mean that sometimes I over think things. Whenever something is about to happen, I
think about every possible outcome of the situation. Sometimes I do that before I say something
to someone. Especially my parents. Other times, when it comes to school or cheerleading, I'll
psyche myself out. At school I always think I have so much more homework than I actually do.
At cheerleading, if I mess something up, I do it over and over again. I have a competition coming
up, and if I mess up one part of the cheer, I do it over and over again until I can consistently get it
right. If a stunt falls, I make my group do it over and over again. Right now my stunt group hates
me and I don't know what to do about it." A tear had left a shiny line down the middle of Jo's
cheek. She didn't realize how much emotion she had kept inside of her. She felt better after
letting it all out.
"You are a perfectionist, and maybe you do stress yourself out too much, but it won't be
difficult to handle your cheerleading problem. Just tell your group that you're sorry. If you tell
them what's been going on, and how you feel, then I'm sure they'll be okay with you. In the mean
time, I'm going to prescribe you something that should help with the stress. If it doesn't, I want
you to tell me. I think you should come see me once a month for a while. It might help if you
have someone to talk to."
"Thanks Doctor. I really appreciate it."
"Christina, can I talk to you?" Jo asked.
"Sure Jo. What's up?" Christina sat down next to Jo on the gym floor. It seemed like
every important conversation Jo had lately happened in the gym.
"When Liz and Beth get here, I want to talk to you about how I've been acting. I feel
really bad about it. And I wanted to explain."
"Okay, that's fine." Christina looked away.
Jo remembered the days when Christina and Liz and Jo and Beth were all best friends.
They had done everything together. On the weekends they would go to movies, spend the night at
each other's houses, and gossip, and eat junk food. They were closer than close can be.
In every close group of friends, especially of three or more, there were specific split offs.
In their group of friends, Jo and Christina were especially close, and Beth and Liz were especially
Jo remembered one particular night, when it had just been Christina and her. They were
laying in Jo's bed, just talking and laughing. Christina played with Jo's long blonde hair and
Jo looked at old pictures.
"Jo, are things going to change?" Christina had asked. Her blue eyes had lost their
Jo sat up. "What do you mean?"
"I mean that once we start to get older, school gets harder and we don't have many classes
together, are things going to change between us?"
"I don't think so. I think we'll always be friends. We're so close now I can't see us ever
separating from each other. Especially not our entire group."
"I promise." Jo had leaned in to hug Christina.
Jo's eyes filled with tears. She looked over at Christina, and could tell she was thinking
the same thing as Jo was.
"Chris... I'm so sorry about everything that has happened this year." Jo wiped a tear from
"I am too Jo. I miss you so much. I don't know how I put up with not having you this
year. We need to do something this weekend. Promise?" Christina moved closer to Jo and Jo
leaned into Christina's hug.
A few seconds later Liz and Beth entered the gym. They all sat down in a circle, and
smiled awkwardly at each other.
"Okay, I asked you guys to come today and talk to me because I have something to tell
you. I went to see a doctor the other day about how stressed out I get."
"I've always been worried about how much you stress yourself out, Jo." Christina looked
at her with concern.
"Well he gave me medicine to help me with it. I finally admitted I have a problem, and
now I can fix it."
"Good." They all smiled at Jo, and she smiled back.
"There's one more thing I needed to say though. I'm so sorry for the way I've treated you
guys. I don't mean to be so rude about how I say things, and how I say we need to practice. I
know it was horrible for me to pull a full without you guys knowing. I feel terrible about it and I
want to fix what damage I've caused to our friendship."
"Jo, you're fine." Beth smiled at her.
"All we needed to hear was an apology." Liz smiled at her.
"Thanks, guys. I needed to hear you guys say that." Jo wiped the tears from her cheeks
and all the girls piled on top of each other in a huge hug.