“Why don’t you ever write about our cheerleading?” Charlotte asked me the other day (after blog-stalking me until the wee hours late one night, but that’s another other bottle of wine, as one of my dear friends is fond of saying).
It’s a fair question, actually. I write about a range of different things – lots of them related to parenting – but I’ve only once blogged about cheerleading, exclusively. So why not? I don’t think there’s any one reason in particular. Perhaps because cheer has consumed so much of our family life these past nine months it feels like I must have blogged about it? Or maybe it’s because the photos and videos I took all have so many images of other people’s children, and I respect online privacy, yo. But really, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t write about our own experiences and gosh, I’m just bursting with pride in them both (and all their teammates and coaches) so here it comes!
First of all, cheer is pure awesomeness.
It’s a mixture of dance and gymnastics, all wrapped up with a totally cool and very impressive bow called stunts. You just have to see the stuff to believe it. The competitions are exciting and loud and fun and totally exhilarating. I really enjoyed watching my girls and their team at practices, but the first time I went to a competition I got it.
It was just like a massive pep rally. The energy level in that room was off. the. hook. Loud music, teams cheering, parents cheering, athletes leaving it all on the mat. And then when my girls got out there…and overcoming their nerves ran onto the mat, revving up the crowd and totally rocking their routine? PROUD isn’t a big enough word for what I felt.
That’s not the least of it, either. This sport has a reputation for being shallow and catty (no thanks to TLC’s reality show Cheer Perfection). And no doubt there are some circles in which this may be true (let’s face it – put a bunch of girls and their moms together and throw competition into the mix and, well, it won’t always turn out nicely). But our cheer experience has been nothing but positive, a fact I credit to the incredible coaching staff at our gym and the awesome girls on the team. And the cheer families, too – there’s no mom drama on our cheerleading team! In fact, one of the things that makes me proud about our club is that we cheer for all the teams – not just our own. Our Stars teams won the ‘spirit stick’ (a sort of good sportsmanship award) in each of their divisions at one recent competition, a testament to the girls and their fans. Stars parents represent!
By being a part of competitive cheerleading, my girls have learned amazing skills: physical skills like tumbling and stunts, and life skills, like teamwork and sportsmanship. They’ve learned to be responsible and productive members of a team. My girls know that when a stunt fails it’s never one person’s fault – everyone in the stunt group is responsible. They know that the only thing that really matters is that you gave it your all – trophies are just the icing on the cake. They know that they are strongest when every single member of the team is present. They know that sometimes winning means looking into the face of adversity and giving it your all anyway.
And those things are important things to know, at any age, in any area of life.