"Grace and Grit"—two words with very different meanings, but when combined together are unstoppable. There is no obstacle true grit and amazing grace can't overcome.
This week First Lady Jordan W. had the pleasure of interviewing First Lady Azusa, a third-year veteran, for the "With Grace and Grit" series. In this interview Azusa shares how "Grit" is important to have as it instills dedication, perseverance, and mental toughness. She also shares that through "Grace" a beautiful confidence can shine through.
Azusa, born in Japan, has been dancing all her life. She loves all styles of dance—jazz, contemporary, hip hop, etc.— and has always wanted to be a Professional Cheerleader. In fact, Azusa attended a Cheerleader workshop in Japan hosted by alumni cheerleader Maki, where former captain and alumni cheerleader Monique was teaching.
At the workshop, she was introduced to the First Ladies of Football and knew that was what she wanted to be someday. With research, Azusa learned about Sideline Prep, a company that mentors young ladies and helps them become a Pro or Semi-Pro cheerleader. Intrigued, Azusa reached out to GeNienne, one of the co-founders of Sideline Prep and Alumni cheerleader, and ended up joining Sideline Prep all the way from Japan. Through correspondences with GeNienne, Azusa decided that if she wanted to truly be a Professional Cheerleader, she was going to have to come to the States. And she did! Azusa moved to the United States in March of 2016, to attend Prep classes with the hope of auditioning to be a Washington Redskins Cheerleader.
Determined to make the team, Azusa showed real "Grit". She did not let the fear of moving over 6,000 miles away from home or the extreme challenge of learning another language deter her from reaching her ultimate goal—performing on FedExField. Instead, she showed perseverance by pushing aside her fears of the unknown and moments of homesickness. And with "Grace", Azusa showed everyone that she can handle stressful situations with poise.
She continues to be an inspiration to all women who also want to be a Professional Cheerleader but are too scared to try. What I love about Azusa is that sometimes when she goes back to Japan, she will host a Cheerleader workshop, just like the one she attended years ago, working with other Japanese dancers who are interested in Professional Cheerleading. Through social media these dancers reach out to her asking for advice, and without hesitation Azusa answers any questions. She shares her journey with the hope that they too can be successful, just like her.
Azusa is a true example of someone with Grace and Grit.