The Cheeriest Leader of them All

I was casually flitting around the “Voices In His Head” blog a few days ago when I stumbled on an older post entitled “Rah Rah Rah.” Well, I thought to myself, this wise guy is probably cracking on cheerleaders. I can’t wait to read that post. I can’t wait to read it for two reasons: 1. I love posts that crack on cheerleaders. 2. I hate posts that crack on cheerleaders.

I am a recovering cheerleader, one who has relapsed back into the cheerleading lifestyle as a “coach.” I was recently cursed blessed with this opportunity as our school was looking for a middle school advisor/coach (imagine that – it’s a job they can’t fill), and my daughter was all gung-ho about trying out for cheerleading. Since I have a history with the sport and I have an aversion to my daughter looking like a complete idiot dancing around with nine other morons, I decided to take the job. This year I was cursed lucky enough to also have the Varsity/JV job dumped laid in my lap just a week before school started. (Imagine that – the other coach quit with no notice. Another job nobody wants. )

Here’s the situation. Cheerleaders are out on the track or the court to look cute. They don’t give a crap about the outcome of any game. The game is just background noise to the important job that is “look at me!”

My first challenge is to try to get these girls to understand that they have an actual purpose. They are cheering, legitimately, FOR something. Look – it’s a game! Football! What do we know about football? Do any of these girls know what a First Down is? How about any down? Field goal or extra point? You mean there’s a difference? What’s a sack? Is that where they hold the balls? (Well, yes, girls, but it’s not that kind of sack in this instance…get your minds out of the gutter by the way.)

There’s nothing worse than a group of girls who think they’re cute standing out there on the track yelling “Touchdown…Touchdown…We want a Touchdown!” when the other team has the ball. Um, no girls. You don’t want a touchdown right now. Wait until WE have the ball. Probably it will happen when they kick off at the half, but only for a couple of plays until they fumble. What’s a fumble?

Once they know the game they need to make up appropriate cheers for the team and learn the cheers. For the middle school girls, this takes literally all summer. Three days a week, two hours a day. And they still forget. Part of the reason it’s so difficult is that we get distracted during practice. Have you ever seen the movie UP? The talking dog gets completely distracted every time he catches the scent of a squirrel? Cheerleaders and bees work kind of the same way.

We will be standing in our two straight lines, hands on our hips, waiting patiently for the next cheer to be called. All of the sudden one of the girls begins shrieking and waving her arms, convulsing and dancing amongst and between the other girls. It’s a bee.

I wait until the bee has safely exited the cheer zone and everyone’s heartbeats have returned to normal. Because, of course, once one girl starts screaming “Bee,” they all begin hopping and dancing around, waving their arms like some kind of primal tribal ritual.

Here’s me the first time that happens, “If anyone EVER, EVER behaves like that again around a bee, you are going to run until you puke.”

“You can puke from running?” The blonde-headed bee hater asks.
“Yes.” I say. “You wanna try it?”
“No thanks, coach.” She says.

Usually it’s pretty good after that. I actually had a girl get stung twice in a game this year. She stood stoically in her position with silent tears leaking out of her eyes and a smile on her face. I broke down and got her some ice.

Voices in My Head was also interested in what we do about injuries. Well, sir, I can tell you I’ve had my share. This summer I had one broken ankle from a cheerleader jumping on a trampoline and two more badly sprained ones from walking. Yes, folks, you heard correctly. Walking.  Later this season the same girl got a black eye from walking into an opened door.

One girl couldn’t practice for three days because her bunny bit her on the toe. I had another girl with an injured back from carrying her friend to her car…just to see if she could do it. And a Varsity girl told me Friday during school that she didn’t think she could cheer that night because her knee was bothering her. When I asked her what happened she said she shut it in her car door.

I promptly grabbed a sticky note and wrote it down.
“What are you writing down, coach?”
“Your excuse.”
“Why?”
“It’s for my list.”
“What list?”
“My list of stupid reasons that girls can’t cheer.”
“Is that for your blog?”
“Yep.”
“I was just kidding, coach. My knee’s fine, really. Don’t write that down. Are you going to write a blog about us?”
“Are you kidding me, kid? I can’t make this stuff up!”

By the way, she had to sit out the second half because her knee hurt. Hmmmm….

As for the question about what the cheerleading coach yells at the cheerleaders, let me give you a sample. I’ve been known to say the following things during practice or games:

“Tuck your underwear up into your spanks.”

“You can’t wear a black bra with white underarmor.”

“I know the Running Back broke your heart, but you cannot yell ‘You Suck’ at him while you’re in front of the crowd.” This little girl literally cried during the entire game with a smile on her face. Every time she turned around to face the team I could see her little shoulders quaking. When it was time to cheer, she wiped off her face quickly and went on with her duty.  Tragic, but true.

“We can’t do the V-I-C-T-O-R-Y cheer when we’re down by 50. It doesn’t make sense and you’ll just look foolish.” Sadly, the middle school girls never get to do the victory cheer. We run out of defense chants during the first quarter.

And my personal favorite:
“Do you have something against the words to that cheer?” (I can be quite sarcastic sometimes if I want to be.) The Varsity cheerleaders, under the direction of the former coach, apparently weren’t required to actually SAY the words to the cheers. Naturally, there were a few who elected not to. (It is a lot of work, after all.) When I asked her the question above, she looked at me quizzically and remarked, “I don’t say the words. ”

“You do now, honey,” was my sarcastic sweet reply.

In the past several weeks I’ve had to diffuse arguments over hair bows, face paint, texting each others’ boyfriends, and who stands in the front row.  They think I’m a real bitch.

Or they did.   Last night the middle school girls took to the track to get ready for their game at the same time the Varisty team was getting their asses chewed out on the field.  The hulking coach screamed, red-faced, at the team, daring anyone who didn’t want to be on the field to “Go home right now!”   And asking if the boys were looking forward to the opposing team “dragging your dicks across the field”  Friday night.

How would you like it if I yelled at you guys like that?  I asked.   Most of them agreed that they’d probably just start to cry.   That’s why instead I just jump around in front of them like a little idiot telling them to smile and yell louder.  Because after all, I’m the cheeriest leader of them all.

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9 Responses to The Cheeriest Leader of them All

  1. javaj240 says:

    You poor thing. I would rather stick needles in my eyes than coach anything. LOL!

  2. That was an awesome read. A bunny? Her toe? Wow.

  3. The Hook says:

    You are now my favorite cheerleader…

  4. This made me laugh :o) You are doing such a great job with them! Even though it’s super frustrating! They’ll appreciate you in the end 😉

  5. Victoria says:

    Too funny — spot on description of my daughter!

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