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For most area youth football leagues, practice began Monday, and the countdown to the first kickoff of the 2013 begins.

As a youth football cheerleading coach, that means practice began for me as well. This marks my fourth year coaching cheerleaders in grades 2 through 4 and my daughter’s fourth year as a cheerleader.

I’m not sure if the little ones get nervous as the new year starts, but I do. How will this year’s squad do? Will I have a focused bunch? Will they work well together?

The first practice went well. The knee-hi squad under my guidance stands 17 strong with nine returnees and some new cheerleaders who have cheered previously with other squads. The girls at the first practice learned and reviewed 28 cheers/chants and kept in sync quite well.

More cheers lurk on the horizon for this evening’s practice, and once solidified, the dance routine instruction starts.

Good luck to all of those football teams and squads hitting the practice fields this week and in the weeks to come. The first whistle of the season will sound sooner than you think!