Sunday, February 26, 2012

And the Spirit Stick Goes to...

2012 Competition Cheer Squad CCA
I spent the weekend at the ACEA basketball tournament and cheer competition with the bulk of our high school kids, including my pre-teen who participated in the cheer competition on the varsity squad as a sixth grader. (Anyone who knew me in high school just cracked a rib laughing.)

Okay, so it's a little funny.

I was a drama girl in  high school. I was nerdy, weird, a little out of sync. My clothes weren't quite right. My hair was an epic fail. If everyone carried a purse, I brought a back pack. I was a little too smart to be in the stoner crowd. I wasn't athletic or involved or spirited. I sort of floated through high school in this bizarre little bubble, and my memories are almost exclusively of theater productions. The areas between are fuzzy blanks. I never once went to a basketball game or softball game. I'm not even sure if we had girls sports. (Surely we did, though.) I sat through one soccer game because the boy I dated on and off played. I went to a handful of football games only because I had a friend who insisted we go to a few. Cheerleaders? Snort. I think not.  I simply wasn't involved.

Cheer squad practicing at a pep rally
So, let me restart this...I spent the weekend chaperoning a roomful of cheerleaders at state basketball competition, my own daughter participated, sporting her backward-facing bow on top of a spectacular Snookie Bump ponytail (of all the stupid stupid). I had a pom pom in both hands screaming my lungs out at every game. (This is known as "irony", Class.)

The boys varsity played on Thursday (where they lost). The girls varsity played on Friday and won, making it to the state championship game. The girls then cheered on Saturday morning and immediately following their routine, half of the squad changed into basketball uniforms and played for the state championship. Yes, that's right, our cheerleaders took out the hairbows and played like a beast for the title game--elbows, ponytails, and sweat flying in equal measure. It was astonishing.

Elise ready to roll
Now, to be frank, this wasn't the best game we've ever played. (Okay, so we stank.) For whatever reason, the team didn't gel into a cohesive unit. The passing game was weak, the shooting was cold, and we weren't communicating or making the set ups like we should have.

Sigh. It was disappointing.

Henry Russell Sanders said, "Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing." (Sometimes Vince Lombardi gets the credit for this quote, but he stole it from Red Sanders. Do your homework, Kids.)

Both men were wrong. From a Number One Fan kind of girl, I know that winning is important. I wanted to win all of those games. I wanted to crush the competition into dust. I yelled until I am completely hoarse. I brought pom poms and tattoos to pass out to the fans. I yelled at the crowd if I felt they weren't being spirited enough. I did hair and chaperoned the sixth grade hotel room (Holy Mother). I bought soft drinks for kids not in my gene pool, slipped several kids extra money, passed out Ibuprofen like I was a drug dealer, and went early to the games to hold entire sections of seats for fans. I carried equipment and made signs and led fan cheers. I'm serious about the winning.

Cheer won second in state; basketball won second in state
So are the other moms/coaches. Mrs. Becky, Mrs. Mary, and Mrs. Marilyn were the most supportive team leaders ever, bringing hair bows, make up, nail polish, goodie bags for the girls, etc. Mrs. Marilyn, the cheer coach, and Mrs. Mary, the school secretary and Woman Friday, don't even have kids on the team and they came and stayed the whole weekend and worked like crazy women. We all want a win!

But it is so much bigger than the score on a board.

It's about being involved: Because we are small, the sixth, seventh, and eighth graders got to be a HUGE part of the varsity competition squad. Everyone got to participate on some level.

It's all about mentoring: The older girls helped the younger girls all season. They taught, led, did their hair, took them to the mall, ate meals with them, danced in the lobby with them, and painted their nails. I don't care what you say, having a junior/senior notice you and take an interest in you when you are in middle school is a big whoop.

It's demonstrating grace under pressure: The older girls encouraged them, set good examples, and overall behaved like role models. On the court, when losing, they remained calm, didn't curse or throw things or demonstrate poor sportsmanship. We held it together when under the worst kind of pressure. It's easy to maintain your decorum when things are peachy keen, but when things go against you, that's when your character will bear out. Learning how to lose gracefully is probably more important than learning how to win. Cause I've got news for you--only one team was number one in the state. That means everyone else had to lose.

It's supporting other people even when your journey isn't going so hot: The boys lost in the first game of their division. They stayed the entire weekend and cheered on the girls basketball games and came to the cheer competition. Hello??? Is this thing on??? They woke up early and came to see CHEER competition. They took up two full rows in the stands and waved pom poms and cheered and supported the girls. They were part of the school. Showing up for the girls went beyond just sportsmanship. It demonstrated character and love.

I am proud to be a Chilton Patriot! I am proud of our young people. I am proud of my baby girl who cheered front and center with the Big Girls. I am proud of our teams. I am proud of our school.

Now if I could just make up a cheer incorporating pom poms that supports English class....hmmmm....

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