Small Town Cheerleaders

Last weekend I had the opportunity to watch my daughter celebrate her Sophomore Homecoming as a collegiate cheerleader.  She joined us at the tailgate, took pictures with her teammates, and then headed to the sidelines to cheer on the football team…sort of.

See…here’s the thing about cheerleaders today…THEY.ARE.BAD.ASS. They are less about cheering on the athletes…and more about being the athletes…and I will seriously drop kick the next person that tells me that cheerleading is not a sport…seriously. DROP KICK.

I mean…I was a cheerleader once.  I had a varsity sweater and a pleated skirt that twisted and twirled when I performed the fight song.  I had pompons and a big bow, and I could easily hold Holly Linihan on my shoulders while yelling “Hold that line!”

I was even captain…I know…shocking.

Check the far right…

But let me tell you…today’s cheerleaders, even with their big bows and their pompons…are not your mother’s cheerleaders.  Look, I get that these girls are cute and sweet and can rock a glitter bow…but I also know that they are the toughest young women I’ve ever met and can out-benchpress half of the student population of their college…mostly the male half.  They work-out 4-5 days a week, not including time in the weight room.  And really, you do not want to meet one of these girls alone in a dark alley…unless you need a protector…then by all means grab her hand and take her with you, because today’s cheerleaders will take a mother down.  You do not want to mess.

Ok…I get it.  I know that some of you aren’t really “cheerleading people.” You glance occasionally at the sidelines of a football game and think, “Oh that’s sweet that they are cheering on the boys.” But…I’m here to tell you that YOU NEED JESUS.

Because if you were “a cheerleading person,” you would realize that Friday night under the lights is just one more practice that they have to put in…after 4 others during the week (not including weight room workouts) just to bide their time until competitive season.

You would realize that the jumps, tucks and stunts that you are watching on the sidelines are just the 1st draft of a bigger routine that will push these girls to their limits and might even get them a college scholarship…or a National Championship…I mean, I’m not bragging or anything (I’m actually totally bragging) but I can name one cheerleader in particular, who may or may not look a lot like me despite trying desperately not to, who has both.  Just saying.

Cheerleading is not for the faint of heart.  It takes courage to watch it and strength to perform it…and for those that just smile patronizingly and say, “Oh that’s cute…” I challenge you to climb on your best friend’s shoulders and then have your third best friend climb on yours…

That’s what I thought.

So here’s the thing. Last weekend wasn’t just Homecoming, it was also the weekend that the Alma College Cheer and STUNT team received their NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP rings.  Meaning…and I will not hesitate with the capital letters here…THEY ARE THE BEST DIVISION III ALL-GIRL CHEER TEAM IN THE NATION.  THE NATION.  THE ACTUAL UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. And lest you think I’m exaggerating, you can check out this video..because I’m incredibly proud…and incredibly honored to be a cheer coach and a cheer mom…and incredibly adamant that these athletes are recognized as such.

And in this moment, when our nation is desperately in need of strong women to stand up and have a voice…I just want to take a moment to recognize one specific group of young women who are strong, athletic, fierce, and lovely all at the same time…they are cheerleaders…and I, for one, am cheering them on!

Girls. I’m so proud of you!

With Lots of Love from a former Small Town Cheerleader