“Cricket’s Big Moment,” Friend, August 2016, 8–9
“Over here!” Miss Karen, the cheerleading camp director, waved Cricket over. “Girls eight and under are in this group.”
“Not again,” Cricket whispered to her best friend, Lauren. She turned to Miss Karen and said, “Actually, I’m 10. I’m just small.”
“Oh,” Miss Karen said. “Well, we need you to cheer with the younger girls for the performance. You’re so much shorter and you wouldn’t blend in with the older girls. Besides, their uniforms would be too big on you.”
“But—” Cricket started to say.
“Of course you can do all the other camp activities with your friends.” Miss Karen patted Cricket’s shoulder. “I know you won’t mind.”
Cricket didn’t say anything. But back in their room, Cricket told Lauren, “But I do mind. I’m always the smallest one at camp.”
“It will be OK,” Lauren said. “We’ll have fun doing everything else together.”
And they did have fun. They learned to do flips and back walkovers on the bar in their gymnastics class. Miss Karen even complimented Cricket on her landings.
They watched every day as the high school cheerleaders practiced their pyramids. Cricket was already good at pyramids, and she couldn’t wait until she was old enough to join a cheer team too.
But none of it quite made up for having to cheer with the little kids. Cricket felt out of place practicing with them. They were so much younger! She wished she were taller so she could cheer with her friends.
“Why don’t you pretend to be sick on Saturday?” Lauren said. “Then you won’t have to be in the show.”
Cricket thought for a moment. “No, I can’t do that. It wouldn’t be honest. And besides, Miss Karen and the kids are counting on me. I’ll just tough it out.”
The next day, Cricket had just performed with her group and left the stage when Miss Karen came running up to her.
“We need you,” Miss Karen whispered. “The girl for the top of the high school team’s pyramid is sick. You’re small enough for the girls to lift easily, and your landing is perfect. Are you willing to try it?”
Cricket nodded slowly. They needed her help because she was small. “I’ll do my best,” she said.
When the high school girls finished their routine and started their pyramids, Miss Karen gave Cricket the signal to join them. Cricket said a silent prayer asking Heavenly Father to help her do her best.
She walked on stage. The girls lifted her up and she grinned, holding her hands high in the air. Cricket flipped down into the girls’ arms and landed perfectly. The crowd cheered.
The rest of the cheerleaders came down from the pyramid smoothly. Cricket couldn’t stop smiling as she listened to the crowd cheering.
At the end of the show, all the cheerleaders came onto the stage for one last bow. Miss Karen walked to the microphone.
“Every year we give an award to the most inspirational camper,” she said. “This year we’ve chosen a girl who cared more about the group than about herself. The most inspirational camper award goes to a little girl with a big heart. Cricket Newton, please come forward!”
Cricket hugged the trophy tight. She smiled as she stood on her tiptoes to say “thank you” into the microphone.