On the Importance of Being a Cheerleader
There are two types of people in this world. Those who are cheerleaders, and those who wish they were.
There are a lot of things I regret about my past. As we’ve learned, Sun In was NEVER the cure to the lack of funds my parents were willing to give me for highlights. I regret not thinking I was smoking hot when I actually was. I also regret not starting a healthy eating and workout regime when I thought I was a heifer at 128 lbs. Also, tanning beds make you look orange and old. If only Tanning Mom had been around then. But I will never, EVER regret the years I spent under an oversized bow, in an undersized skirt, with too much glitter on. Wait… there is no such thing as too much glitter, so I suppose I should say, with the appropriate amounts of glitter on. Now, it could have been the aftershocks of living in a hairspray cloud, or the way the rollers dug into my head as I slept on them the night before a big competition, but cheerleading left an indelible mark on my personality.
Philosophers have been debating this question for as long as the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders picked up their first set of Pom Poms (and coincidentally pulled up those horrid white boots….). Which came first… the super bubbly happy personality, or the sport which rewards and encourages said behavior? I like to think a little of both. Any activity which asks you to glue a smile on your face, while executing military like arm signals, holding shredded up plastic.. well it takes a special kind of person. Oh sit down all you cheer fundamentalists. I know that’s not all we do. I know you will argue the ‘sport’ vs ‘activity’ debate until you take your last breath. But let’s be honest here… it started out as a pretty silly idea. Now, there is no question that cheer has evolved to the level of extreme gymnastics, dance, and people throwing it has become. My best friend Janelle and I were on the front lines waging that war long ago. Let me tell you where we started. On the sidelines wearing hand me down uniforms getting verbally abused by the girl’s basketball team. I don’t have a picture of this because I’m too proud. We worked our teeny tiny bums off to gain respect, and we did it. By our last year we were regarded as one of the best teams. But our commitment didn’t end there; we coached after high school, even while keeping our own University cheer schedule up. We coached many girls, who when we started, numbered 15 brave souls, to a program that encompassed a small varsity team of 15, large varsity team of 20, and dance team of 20. That’s right. FIFTY FIVE girls became a part of their school’s activities because Janelle and I were willing to stick with it. I ended up moving away with Mike’s work, but Janelle heroically kept the torch burning until she passed it down to the next generation of kidless cheer coaches. What I’m getting at is that we were willing to be MOCKED our Grade Nine year for something we so wholeheartedly believed in. In good uniforms and in bad, we got out there, took a quick bath in glitter and showed the world what we were willing to smile through. Now cheer is pretty well received at most schools, since many have programs that have been in place for years. Some don’t , and to those brave little cheerleaders starting new programs at schools I say Go Forth!! Prosper!! Throw some stunts, some tumbling, and some glitter if need be, until people stand up and recognize the power of cheer!! Sure, I might not still have a killer toe touch (Caution: I think I do when I’ve been indulging in spirits, and serendipitously have a trampoline near by. It almost always ends with me not being able to walk the next day), but being that brave cheerleader taught me to not be afraid of what people think, (or actually say to your face), and that if you really, REALLY believe in yourself, and throw a smile as big as any portrait in an orthodontist waiting room on, YOU CAN DO IT!
This is why I can’t stay out of the cheerleading game too long… That and I get a real kick out of teenage girls rolling their eyes at me.