When I first read that Cheer Mom was looking for guest bloggers, I started thinking about my experiences with cheerleaders. I was on a pom squad in the 7th grade & was a cheerleader in the 8th grade, but I never quite understood their importance. To me, a cheerleader was just some girl who put on a cute outfit & stood around at football games. Fast forward to my senior year of high school & I’m standing in a packed gym during a home senior girls basketball game where I’m about to shoot free throws that could potentially win me a state championship. There were our cheerleaders & dance team, always the steady leaders of spirit in the gym. Little did I give their importance recognition.
When I was in high school, our Dance Cats (our school mascot was the Lions) & Cheerleaders were the heart of our games & our ball team was the soul. While most people file out of a game at half time to go venture out to the concession stand, our fans stayed in their seats, glued to their spots for fear of missing our state champion dancers & cheerleaders. Heck, people who didn’t even watch basketball came to those games just to watch our girls & guys do their thing (we had some awesome guy back flippers!) They brought the spunk, the fire, & the thrill of the competition to that gym every halftime. And I often just shrugged them off as the girls who were silly & wannabe athletes.
Fast forward to my days of being a college athlete & yet again there are the cheerleaders standing under the goal, but something was lacking & they were often a joke around campus. They just didn’t have a clue about how to bring in the crowds, to get us moving, to get the fans going, to get everyone excited about the game. They weren’t vibrant or full of the spirit & let’s face it, the “cheer” that I was so accustomed to during my high school days. It was then I fully understood the great, great importance of cheerleaders & dance teams that I had always taken for granted. I realized that they were a crucial element to bringing the gymnasium alive. It wasn’t until college that I realized a good ball game has so many more elements than the ballplayers & points on the board; it requires the heart of the game, the cheerleaders & dance teams (fellow athletes I might add!), to be there as well.
In high school, I went on to win 2 state championships, had fans that literally travelled with us around the US to watch us play & watch our squads cheer & dance. Basketball players + Fans + Cheerleaders+ Dance Squad= A great basketball game! I never quite understood that I was so in love with basketball games not only because I loved ball, but I loved the atmosphere that had so much more to do with cheering than I ever knew! I often think about the high school dance & cheer captain, Samantha Joy & Ashley Cherish. I think about how they were underestimated & taken for granted. They will never, ever know how much I sorely missed them while I was a collegiate ball player. Our halftimes were literally a YAWN, our stands were empty & so friggin’ boring!
To all the girls & guys out there who are cheering & may get discouraged: Remember that you are the heart of those games, winning or losing, you are just as important an element as the ball players at those games. I wouldn’t have gotten rid of our girls & guys for anything. I wish that I could go back to my 10th, 11th, & 12th grade years & just watch myself play ball, watch our halftime show one more time, & tell my high school self to thank our squads for all their two a day practices, hard work & sweat. So, in order to not take another generation of cheerleaders for granted, I’ll thank you!
And I’ll Thank all the Moms & Dads who get their kids to practice, they are also the unsung heroes of those games as well!
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