2023 Scholarship Winning Essay

At PCT, we've given over $81,000 to graduating Seniors heading off to University, College or the Trades.

This year's grand prize winner of a $2000 scholarship goes to Alyssa F.

Here is her essay on the Life Lessons Learned at PCT.

Life Lessons for a Lifetime I still remember the first time I walked into Power Cheer Toronto. At the miniscule age of 9 I was introverted, shy and anxious to try something new. While many of my friends had already discovered their passion in sports such as hockey, soccer and gymnastics, I had yet to find one that I connected with. I distinctly remember being skeptical after coming in for a trial session at PCT, unsure if committing to a full season of cheerleading was right for me. Yet, as I reflect on the last 8 years of my life, I realize that I would not be the person I am today had I not taken that risk. From a young age I was always taught that good things do not come easy; a lesson that was reinforced countlessly at PCT. I am sure many athletes and coaches would agree that cheerleading in particular is nothing short of easy. It requires ongoing commitment, hard work, personal sacrifice, and a whole lot of dedication in order to achieve your goals.

However, what many people often forget is that cheerleading is a privilege. While it is an opportunity I am extremely grateful to have, there has always been a price associated with my passion. For example, this time last year, I was not cheering at PCT. While many of my former teammates were performing their hearts out on the mat, I lived my passion from the sidelines. When asked why, my default response was simply that I was taking a year off to work on my skills, something many athletes do. However, what many of my friends and teammates do not know is that it is not the entirety of the truth. It is not a secret that cheerleading is a privilege in today’s society. Although its costs may be justifiable, at this point in time I had to respect the fact that it was not something my family could afford.

During my year off, I spent every waking moment dreaming about cheerleading and getting to perform on the mat with my friends once again. However, if PCT taught me anything, it is that if you want anything bad enough you will do everything in your control to make it possible. So I did just that - I made an agreement with my parents that in order to return to cheer, I would be responsible for paying the fees in full. I got a part-time job and utilized the skills I learned at PCT - self-discipline, dedication and perseverance to make it happen. I sacrificed hanging out with my friends and spending time with family in order to pick up extra shifts. I managed my time effectively to maintain a 90%+ average at school, while leading several extra-curricular activities and taking care of my younger sister. Well it was never easy, through the value of hard work I learned at PCT, I was able to turn my dream of coming back into a reality. Another valuable life lesson I have learned during my time at PCT is that it is okay to lean on others. Learning to trust and rely on my teammates was what led us to victories in competition but also helped carry me through difficult times in my life. For example, I particularly remember in October 2022 how both my mental and physical health were deeply affected trying to balance all aspects of my life. However, the support I received -and later learned to give- from the PCT community was unmatched. As many know, cheerleading is a team sport meaning no one individual can do it all. For example, it is impossible to do a stunt with just a flyer. From the flyer squeezing, to the bases using their legs and backspots driving the stunt up, every single person plays an important role in making a stunt happen. PCT taught me the necessity of having other people to rely on not only to accomplish skills, but also as friends you can count on for support.

This was reflected from the moment I walked in the door at PCT and every single time since; as I am not only reminded, but shown that I am not alone. Despite not physically being at the gym during my year off, PCT taught me the value of losing. The value of not being able to partake in the sport I loved, pushed me to make my dream of cheering one more time a reality. I was reminded of the 2018-2019 season when my Junior Level One team Lethal had lost every competition leading up to Nationals. While cheerleading to me has always been more than just winning, loss can be used as a motivating factor. PCT always reassured me that failing was a part of the process, because it shows that you are trying. My coaches have always reinforced that through consistent effort and patience, failure could be overcome. Something I continue to apply to this day. For example, it is a little known fact that math is a subject I struggle in. It has never been something that has come easy to me and I have always felt I had to try 10 times harder to even experience a little success in the subject. However, the value of consistency and perseverance that I learned at PCT was something that I learned to apply. I seeked extra math help, asked questions and put in consistent effort. Yes, it was far from perfect and there were still times that I was not performing as I desired. However, these little but consistent actions helped me see great improvement in my overall mark.

Thus it is with a very full heart that in a few days time I will say goodbye to a group of people that have inspired me, a community that has supported me and a family that has been with me through it all. I may have walked in the doors of PCT a shy, introverted and timid individual, but I walk out as a confident, mature and charismatic leader. So as Winnie the Pooh once said “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” Power Cheer and Tumble, thank you, you will always hold a special place in my heart.