It's tryouts, take two in this new addition to a series full of fun, drama, and lots and lots of CHEER!
It's springtime in Port Angeles, and that can only mean one thing: Titan Cheerleading Tryouts, take two! Will Maddy take the plunge again? Or is she just another spring chicken, like the rest of the Titan’s rejects from the fall? And if she does try out, will the Grizzlies understand—or hate her for leaving them behind after all they’ve been through? On top of tryout tension, the annual Sunshine Dance is around the corner, and while Maddy’s psyched to design a new dress, she’s not sure whose arm she wants to be on….
There are about 2.8 million cheerleaders between the ages of 6 and 17!
Bevan vs. Evan Wednesday, February 16 Late morning, cowering by my locker Spirit Song Level: Sweet Dreams Are Made of Cheer (usually)
OMG, I just had an MEM (mega embarrassing moment). There I was, innocently sitting at my desk in Mr. Cooper’s class. I had my notes open on my desk (because I’m studious! Ha-ha) and my eyes were totally focused on what Mr. Cooper was writing on the board. I mean, I even noticed when he tried to pick a booger out of his nose but pretended he was just scratching an itch.
Well, the thing is, I was TRYING to be totally focused on Mr. Cooper. But there was a tiny problemo: I was totally exhausted! My eyes kept doing that droopy thing (hot!) and my body would start to sway, and then I’d pinch myself to get alert again.
“Can someone describe some of the ways in which Boo Radley’s character represents the theme of innocence in To Kill a Mockingbird?” asked Mr. Cooper. He looked around the classroom expectantly. Luckily, he didn’t look at me.
Jeremiah Ramirez waved his hand in the air frantically. Typical. He looked like he was straining to give his answer. Like if he wasn’t picked, he might actually pass out.
“Has anyone besides Jeremiah done their homework?” Mr. Cooper asked wearily. He let out a big sigh. “Okay, Jeremiah, yes?”
And just as Jeremiah was giving his answer, I must have passed out, because suddenly I wasn’t in class anymore. I wasn’t even ME anymore. I was Boo Radley (yikes! A dude!), sitting in a courtroom dressed in a Titans uniform.
Tabitha Sue Stevens (one of my Grizzly teammates) was the prosecutor, and she was pointing at me and yelling something. Then I realized that the whole jury was made up of the Grizzlies, who were shouting at me.
“Traitor!” the crowd yelled. “How dare you switch teams!”
“But you don’t understand!” I said (not as myself but as Boo Radley, of course). “I can explain!”
And here is the mega embarrassing part: I must have been talking in my sleep, because when I opened my eyes, Mr. Cooper was standing right over me, hairy nostrils flaring, and saying, “Madison Hays, would you like to explain specifically what the rest of us ‘don’t understand’?”
Oh no. I said that OUT LOUD?
I wiped the drool from the side of my mouth and heard some snickers echo around me. The ENTIRE CLASS was staring at me!!!
“Um, sorry, Mr. Cooper,” I said, hoping the redness in my face wasn’t too obvious.
He gave me an angry “hmph” and walked back to the front of the classroom. T.G.
Then Sylvie Harris was like, “Nice dream, Sleeping Beauty?”
Ugh. Wanted 2 die.
I should have known better than to have stayed up practically all night last night. No, I wasn’t watching She’s the Man for the millionth time or catching up on my Teen Vogues. Instead I was glued to YouTube, watching a gazillion cheer videos. Titan spring tryouts will be here before I know it. In a month, to be exact, and I need to be on point this time—I mean, if I do decide to audition.
It’s not like I’m 100% ready to go to the Dark Side. I’m still torn about trying out at all, and what I would do if I even made the team. But ever since my New York trip, when Katie Parker (capitán of los Titans!) planted the idea in my head that I’m some kind of super-awesome cheerleader—Titan material even—I’ve been thinking about trying out for the Titans. Like, a lot.
Here’s the major unfortunate thing: Katie had been all, “I’ll train you when we get back home!” when we were in New York, but now that we’re back, she’s been treating me like I have the bubonic plague (see? I pay attention in class).
Just the other day I passed her sitting with Clementine Prescott (Titan Triumvirate #2) and Hilary Cho (Titan Triumvirate #3) on the way to my table in the caf, and even though she hasn’t been so nice since we got back from New York, I couldn’t help but give her a smile as I walked by. The entire table was SILENT as I made my way past them. The kind of silent that makes you feel like maybe they’ve been talking about you (and PS—it wasn’t about how great your outfit looked that day). And as soon as I passed them, they all burst out laughing. Luckily, I didn’t have to slink away like a giant loser to sit by myself. My BFFs Lanie and Evan were already at our table, so I hightailed it to them, trying to hide my beet-red face behind my lunch tray.
So anyway, Katie’s ’tude means that my tryout for the Titans is all on me. Well, obviously, whether I make the team or not is my problem, but it would have been nice if Katie decided to live up to her promise of training me. In the meantime, I’ve been secretly studying up on the Titans: rereading their Spirit Rules book, watching videos of Titan practices and competitions, and dropping by some of their practices. Last night I watched their Regionals routine for about the thousandth time. If I’m going to have a chance of kicking butt at tryouts, I know I’ll have to be able to do everything on that video. That is, if I do end up trying out. I haven’t even told anyone I’m thinking about it yet. And I CANNOT tell the Grizzlies, like, ever. I feel terrible keeping this big secret from my team. This secret makes me feel, like, the opposite of being a team player. It is sooooo hard going to Grizzly practices knowing that my mind is slightly focused on another team. Talk about NOT being a team player, how about being a traitor co-captain! Wonder what Mr. Cooper would have had to say about my problem had I actually answered his question earlier today? LATER THAT DAY, SNARKING IN THE PARKING LOT Um. Yeah. So let’s just say I wasn’t at my best today during practice. I feel like dog poop. By my last class of the day I could feel myself slipping into dreamland again, so I spent most of class pinching my arm and poking my hand with the tip of my pencil (works like a charm, BTW). I couldn’t imagine how I’d make it through practice. I went over to the vending machine and bought one of those crazy energy drinks that claim to turn you into Road Runner (meep meep!) for five hours. “Yeah,” I said to myself. “That’s exactly what I need to get through practice.”
It worked for, like, five minutes. For five whole minutes (basically, the time it took me to get ready for Grizzly practice), I felt a blast of energy course through my veins. I tore open my locker while untying my hot pink Cons, and at the same time started doing a leg stretch.
“Hey, Maddy, you okay?” asked Tabitha Sue. She was looking at me funny (I’m sensing a pattern here . . . more on that later).
“Yeah!” I exclaimed. I practically ripped off the cute Empire waist top I was wearing and started to put on my shorts. “Never been better!”
Tabitha Sue pointed at my legs. “You sure?”
I looked down. Oops. Forgot to take my pants off. That would help, huh?
I blushed, embarrassed. “Thanks, Tabitha Sue. I just had an energy drink, and I feel like I can’t do anything fast enough.”
Tabitha Sue tightened a shoelace and shook her head. “Well, enjoy it while it lasts. Those things can make you crash. Hard.”
Tabitha Sue was sooooooo right. By the time I moseyed into the gym, I could feel my energy draining out of me like a leaky faucet. I was dragging my feet by the time I reached the rest of the team.
I did my best to be perky for warm-up, but by the time we got to practicing round-offs with the team, I was yawning like it was my job. I know this isn’t, like, the biggest deal in the world. People have tired days all the time. It’s just that I ALWAYS have energy for cheer. So when I have an off day, it’s really obvious.
Jacqui and I divided the teams into groups of two to practice round-offs. We’ve been working on them forever, but still, some peeps have been a little sloppy on the finish. I was in charge of Jared and Ian. Jared began his running start and then went into a hurdle before turning upside down. I totally should have seen it coming—his arms weren’t high enough in the hurdle, and he was going too slowly into the round-off. I also should have been spotting him, but since my brain was mush, I was standing off to the side. Bad captain! Jared bounced on his butt and landed with his legs splayed out on the floor.
“Ow!” he squeaked. “Someone help me up.”
I rushed over to his side and told him not to move. Jacqui came running over too.
“You okay?” she asked, her forehead crinkling with worry.
Jared sighed dramatically. “I think I bruised my ego.”
Jacqui laughed. “All right, easy getting up. Go get some water.”
I patted Jared on the back. “Sorry, dude. That was totally my fault. I should have been spotting you.”
“No worries,” he said, as he limped away.
I knew Jacqui would have something to say about this. I was right.
“Mads, what happened?” she asked. “You don’t seem yourself today.”
I shook my head. “No, I’m not. I’m really sorry. I was up tossing and turning all night. I slept for, like, two hours.”
“Something wrong?” she asked, searching my eyes for an answer.
I laughed. “Nah.” I shrugged. “Not really. Just, you know, Bevan stuff.” It wasn’t a total lie. I had been thinking about me and Bevan a lot lately, but more on that later.
Jacqui smiled. “Oh, totally. I hope everything’s okay with you guys.”
When it comes to guy stuff, you don’t have to say much. Your girls just automatically understand.
I nodded my head, hoping she’d change the subject.
“But listen, Mads, you have to keep it together during practice. Jared could have gotten hurt.”
“Yeah, I know. It was my bad. I’m really sorry.”
I forced myself to bring my A-game to the rest of practice. But I think after what happened with Jared, the rest of the team wasn’t super eager to do anything aerial without Jacqui around. I don’t exactly blame them.
Diane somewhat saved the day when she asked if she could show us a new move she learned from a cheerleader friend back in her old town. I’m happy that she decided to stay on the team even after Katarina passed her social studies test and we didn’t end up needing a backup member after all. It’s cool having another person with a solid gymnastics background on the squad.
“All right, guys, you’ve probably heard of the punch front,” said Diane. “But since we haven’t done it yet, I thought I’d show you.”
Side note: A punch front is basically a front flip, using both feet to take off from. I’m pretty sure we started to learn this before Diane got here, but no one was near mastering it.
“Okay, so first I’m gonna show you how it looks, and then I’ll break it down.”
We all cleared some space to give Diane room. Diane took a breath and, without any momentum, flipped in the air, landing perfectly. Not a wobble in sight. Nice!
Jared started clapping, and the rest of the team followed suit.
“Thanks, Diane!” said Jacqui. “Maybe we can all work on this one, huh, guys?”
Everyone looked game, though Jared and Tabitha Sue both had slightly freaked-out looks on their faces. I love it when the team is pumped about learning new things. We divided up into groups again to practice the move. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Katie and Hilary walking into the gym. I learned my lesson from before, not to smile or wave or anything (unless I have a big desire to feel like a loser). So I pretended not to notice Katie. But then she turned her head and saw me and she actually ROLLED HER EYES at me! Can you believe?? What did I do to her? I’m racking my brain to figure it out. I know we smoothed things over a superlooooong time ago about the Bevan thing, and that also laid the Evan thing to rest too (wow, do I sense a pattern here?). So that isn’t it. List time!
* Did I toilet paper her house? No.
* Did I come to school dressed in the same outfit as her? Hardly.
* Did I spill orange juice on her pants at lunchtime so that it might look like she had a different kind of accident? Negative.
Speaking of Bevan, I don’t really want to admit it to myself, but I don’t have a choice anymore: This thing with Bevan is bothering me way more than I thought it would. Maybe it’s the exhaustion speaking, but I’m a teeny weenie bit upset that he’s been so MIA since I got back. I don’t really get it—before I went away, we were like THIS CLOSE.
But since I got back we have barely made any plans, and I basically see Mr. Hobart more than I see him. (Which is totally unfortunate, because Bevan is way cuter than Mr. Hobart.)
I couldn’t help but look for him in the hall when I left the gym. He used to practically always meet me after practice, which I loved because it was never a planned thing. He’d just be there. Lately, I guess he’s been mucho busy with soccer stuff. I don’t think that team even leaves the gym. Maybe they set up sleeping bags and work out until they all fall asleep on the gym floor?
I totally get being obsessed with a sport (I mean, hello!) but still, it’s annoying that his obsession is affecting ME! I don’t like being the thing that gets thrown to the curb. I think what really sucks is that I’m kind of not sure if I feel the same way I did about him before, and the less I see him, the more true that realization becomes. It’s totally not his fault that I had a BIG EUREKA moment about my feelings for Evan while I was away. But it would help if we actually spent some time together—because then I could actually figure out if I feel more for Evan than I do for Bevan, or vice versa.
All right, my brain is now officially closed for the night. I can’t take anymore today! Can’t wait to get home and just CRASH! NIGHT, CHILLAXING IN MY ROOM Are you there, cheer gods? It’s Madison! Oh wait. You’re actually LISTENING?! Guess so, because right after I inhaled a delish meatball sub and lay down comatose on my bed, I saw I had a MISSED CALL!
Lo and behold, it was from Bevan. He left me a voicemail and everything! I was half expecting an automated message, like (cue robot voice that mispronounces everything), “Hello. Madisone. This is an automatic message from Bev and Ramsey. I am sorry that I have not called you in many days. Soccer has taken. Over my life.” But luckily, it wasn’t automatic. It was THE BEVAN RAMSEY in the flesh (or in the voice, I should say) asking me to call him when I got a chance.
I called him back, and he picked up. I’m so awkward at leaving messages, so I was really glad.
“Whadup, Madison?” he said. “You got my message?”
“Yeah, I did. What’s goin’ on?” I asked, trying to be über-casual. Which was the opposite of what I was feeling inside. In my head I was like, “Where have you been for the past few weeks? Why have I become yesterday’s news?”
“Listen, I’m uh . . . sorry I’ve been such a stranger lately,” he said awkwardly.
“What do you mean?” I asked, totally lying. Duh! Like I haven’t noticed.
“Well, you know. We haven’t been hanging out much lately. My team is really bringing things to the next level. Wait, so, you haven’t, like, noticed?”
I might be wrong, or imagining things (wouldn’t be a first!), but I think he actually sounded a little hurt. Like he wanted me to notice and care that we hadn’t chilled in a while. I don’t know why I didn’t just tell him that I was kinda upset that he’s been so busy. Maybe I didn’t feel like letting him see that he hurt my feelings.
“Yeah,” I said. “I guess. You’re right, it’s been a while. It sounds like you’ve been really busy.”
“So. Yeah,” he continued. “I was wondering if you wanted to, um, go bowling Friday night?”
Bowling? How cute! Bevan had told me he’s only been bowling, like, once in his life. So I guess he’s not afraid to look stupid in front of me. I’d told him I’d show him a thing or two.
“Yeah, I think I’m free,” I said (playing hard to get, ha-ha). “Let’s do it.”
“So, I’ll see you at school tomorrow?” he asked.
“Yep. I don’t plan on being a delinquent.”
I was glad he called, but then, for some reason, I decided to go online and see who was there. And now I realize, I wasn’t just looking to see if “just anyone” was there. My mind had wandered to Evan. Before I had a chance to IM him, a message popped up on my screen. Here’s our convo:
Evan: “Hey u!”
My heart actually skipped a beat. What is happening to me?
Evan: “Whatchu up 2?”
Maddy: “Meh. Not much. Just hangin’. Soooo tired.”
Evan: “Grueling Grizzly practice?”
Ugh. I hate lying, but I’m not ready to tell him about my plan to possibly try out for the Titans.
Evan: “U should relax. I’ll check on u l8r.”
He is sooo sweet, thinking about me like that.
We said good-bye and signed off. Finally! Time to really pass out. I closed my computer and went to take off my earrings. When I looked in the mirror, I saw that I was smiling ear to ear.
And you know what? This smile isn’t from Bevan asking me out to go bowling. It’s from talking to Evan!!! Gah! Cray-zee-ness.
Zoe Evans was very upset that her school did not have a cheerleading team, so instead she joined the Pep Squad where she raised school spirit while wearing a football jersey and a tennis skirt. Zoe has written over twenty books for readers of all ages. A graduate of Columbia University, she is also an experienced children’s book editor. Zoe loves reading, eating oysters, and of course, cheering.
Brigette Barrager is an artist, designer, writer, and the illustrator of Pocket Full of Colors by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville as well as the New York Times bestselling Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She attended the California Institute of the Arts and spent some time working in animation before taking the plunge into book illustration, where she’s lived happily ever after. She resides in Los Angeles with her handsome husband, cute doggy, and terrible cat. Visit Brigette online at BrigetteB.com.