Hi, Redskins Nation!
This is WRC Azusa and after four amazing seasons, I'm hanging up my pom poms. My current feeling?! Indeed, very content. Happy cry. I'm very grateful that I'm able to leave the team with my heart fulfilled. All my heart, time, and hard work I put into the team helped me to grow so much as a cheerleader.
As I was wondering what I should write for the farewell blog, I thought it would be a great idea to write not only a farewell message but also share what I've learned through these four seasons. I hope I can inspire younger generations or people who want to start a new chapter of their life.
The three major lessons I learned from my experiences in the team are the following:
- Don't hesitate to step out of your comfort zone
- Love your uniqueness. Recognize it as your strength
- Keep moving forward when you face challenges
1) Don't hesitate to step out of your comfort zone
I still clearly remember the day of my first prep class four years ago. I made one of the biggest decisions of my life and took three months of leave from work and flew to Washington D.C. the day before.. I left Japan where I spent my 20 plus years of my life, a financially stable job and moved to a city I've never lived before with no friends or family… Needless to say I was a ball of nerves on that first walk from Morgan Blvd Metro FedExField, . Of course, I prepared very well in advance to minimize risk but If I actually didn't take these actions, I wouldn't be at where I am right now. So, when you want to achieve something, set a clear goal, prepare very well and the most important thing is to take ACTION!
2) Love your uniqueness and differences. Recognize them as your strengths.
I learned it from my teammates. The Washington Redskins Cheerleaders are one of the most diverse teams in the NFL. We are comprised of women who have different backgrounds, different races, and different talents. Some teammates are good at socializing with fans, some are good at dancing and some of them are so photogenic. Each one of my teammates knows their strength and is confident about it. It was eye opening to me. Japan is a homogeneous country and most people living there are Japanese whereas the United States has so much diversity. We have a mindset that being similar to others is more comfortable therefore we tend to try to fit into the norm. Through being a Washington Redskins Cheerleader, I gradually accepted my differences and uniqueness. I focused more on my own strengths and being the authentic ME. "Oh, it's okay that I don't speak English like everyone else. Instead of that, I'm good at XYZ." This mindset definitely boosted my confidence.
3) Keep moving forward when you face challenges.
The audition isn't your goal. It's just the beginning of your journey. We often hear "Be like a sponge" during rookie season. Once you make the team, it's time to adapt and grow. As Washington Redskins Cheerleaders, we don't only perform on gameday but also attend many appearances. It was nerve wracking when I attended a Redskins Read event for the first time and had to read English books to students. My mind went blank when I was interviewed on camera. I wasn't confident enough and always questioned myself, "Am I right? Is it okay?" Especially my rookie year, I faced those challenges but kept moving forward with baby steps. Now it's been four years and I'm comfortable with those things I felt challenged by at the beginning. So please don't give up when you face obstacles.
I want to say thank you to my former director, Stephanie, and current director, Jamilla, for trusting me and giving this amazing opportunity. I also appreciate my teammates who always accepted who I am and supported me. Thank you to my family, friends, mentors in Japan and the U.S. who were by my side. I wouldn't be here if any one of them were not in my life. It was thrilling to perform in front of 90,000 fans at FedExField on game day and travel to nine countries through military appreciation tours and Calendar trips. This was absolutely a once in a lifetime opportunity. Again, thank you so much! And I will keep growing with the mentality that I learned through the experience.