Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday Memory: I Was a High School Cheerleader

Yes, you read that correctly. I was a high school cheerleader.

Bookish, indie film loving, fashion uncaring me was a high school cheerleader.

And let this fact sink in: I LOVED IT!!!!

As a freshman, I started my high school career in a super-small school. I think there were 10 kids in my class, maybe 40 in the whole high school and we had a cheer squad of two. Yup, two of us proudly donned the green, black, and white and rooted for the basketball team. I doubt we were loud or very good, but we made up for it in enthusiasm.
(Freshman Shelle in my Griswold High School Grizzlies cheer uniform. I was drowning in that way too big sweater and quite dorky in my wire-rimmed glasses and frizzy hair. Despite those setbacks, I cheered as if every point depended on me spelling out correctly the words to B-E-A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E!)

Our family moved to a different school district that was considerably larger than our previous one. (Gasp! 40 kids in my class and nearly 200 in the whole school.) This school had actual perform-in-front-of-the-whole-school tryouts and mandatory pre-tryout practices. I went to a few of the practices, but just didn't feel like I fit in at all with the other girls, so I didn't try out.

Fast forward two years. I was still a dork, but not a complete dork. I'd made friends, even with some of the school's cheerleaders, and I learned they weren't all snobs. I knew the cheer advisor quite well and she pulled me aside after school one day and encouraged me to try out for the team. Well, I did, and I made the Varsity Cheer Squad for basketball.

Again, I loved it. I (clearly) had a lot to learn about make-up and hair, and it wasn't until college when I learned how to properly tame eyebrows, but I loved it. Being a part of a team whose sole job was to boost and encourage others was awesome. Don't get me wrong - we worked hard, sometimes really hard. We practiced dance routines and basket tosses until we were exhausted. We worked on jumps and cheers for hours on end. We painted signs and decorated lockers until our hands felt permanently stained red. But dang, we had a ton of fun.

We cheered at dozens of games (both the girls and boys basketball games) and cheered on our teams to district, regionals, and even state. We danced a half-time performance in the State Tournament and were in the running for the award of best cheer squad. We didn't come home from the tournament with that particular trophy, but I assure you, it wasn't from lack of effort or enthusiasm.

(Side note: I also learned some important life skills while cheerleading, notably, dealing with difficult people and staying cool when surrounded by drama. (There are some cliches that are totally true, a group of high school girls creating drama is certainly one of them.) In college and beyond, I attended several leadership courses and none of them taught me more about dealing with people than one season on the cheer squad.)

Cheerleading today is often described as too sexy, with girls wearing uniforms that are suggestive and too revealing. I don't disagree with those accusations. I know that's not what our squad was about (as evidenced by pictures), and hope one day if Lana wants to be a cheerleader, her cheer advisor and team is just as old-school as mine was.

1 comment:

Jennine Stalder said...

Aside from the glitz and the glamour (trans: glitters and cheerleading uniforms), there are a lot more into cheerleading. Especially these days, the stunts, routines, and dances have greatly evolve from how it was before. Every cheerleader puts in a lot of effort to perfect a routine, all while showing off those perfect smiles. That's the most amazing part of it.
Jennine @