My Experience: High School Cheerleading- The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Football season is upon us and to be honest, I already miss high school football games so much. With that said, college football games have not started yet so maybe that will fill the void- but I doubt it.

Don’t get me wrong, I am excited for college football and all the fun, spirited outfits I have planned, but what I miss is cheerleading. I can barely keep up with football games. What I love about games is the band, cheerleaders, and spirit shown every night in the stadium.

And I am not realizing until now how much I am going to miss cheering on the Patriots.

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But I’ll talk about all the fun things that I absolutely loved about cheer later; let’s get down to the honest truth. What is always a part of Cheerleading? Drama. There was honestly more and more drama as the years went on. Seniors/Captains always quit. Always. Every. Single. Year. They would quit over little things like because they would rather be with their boyfriends than come to practice/games or just little things like that that show they have no sense of commitment and responsibility. This type of attitude really annoyed me because all of these people were elected captain because of their skill- not their commitment to the team. Both of these qualities should be a factor of determining who is captain, in my opinion. Another thing that would frequently happen would be that people do not want to fully commit to practice and then act all left out when they cannot participate in something at the game. What I am saying is, girls would refuse to stunt and then their feelings would be hurt that they were not in the stunt. Seriously. This was just unbelievable to me. Also, girls would skip practice and not know a cheer. Once again, their fault. We would tell them just to step away from the squad while we were doing that cheer at the game. My junior year one of the seniors literally cried because she had to step away for one cheer she did not learn. She cried because it was “embarrassing.” Uh, you did this to yourself by skipping practice? And it is literally one cheer that lasts like 30 seconds. You will survive.  Other issues that continuously arose were arguments about facial piercings and what the technical rules regarding piercings are, attitude issues, and the constant need to talk and sit near friends. Now, I am not going to sit here and act like I never talked at games. But all of the arguments about these little issues showed the cheerleaders lack of commitment to the squad and emphasized that their main priority was to be social, not to cheer. I will say that one of the best things cheer provided me with were friendships with my teammates, but there are times when other priorities like stunts and composure at games are more important.

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Senior year is definitely the Year of Drama. Let’s see, during basket ball season of junior year we got a new cheer coach. We were all really excited to have her as a coach because she let us try stunts our old coach never did and had been involved with cheerleading for a long time so she knew how to help us with cheers and uniforms and things like that. We had stunt clinics over the summer and did fundraising to pay for uniforms and camps and things like that. I was out of town a lot so I did not get to do much of the fundraising and was going to have to pay my cheer camp fee out of pocket. All throughout my cheerleading career I have never been a flyer. NEVER. A few days before cheer camp, our new coach decides I will be flying in the stunt clinic. And, I will start by doing a lib show and go, so flying as high as possible without leaving hands WHILE ON ONE FOOT. Long story short, I pretty much broke my ankle. This is why you do not make an inexperienced flyer do difficult stunts. So, as one would imagine, I was unable to participate in cheer camp, YET I WAS STILL REQUIRED TO PAY AS THOUGH I WAS PARTICIPATING. This absolutely blows my mind. I get hurt on your account yet I am still the one that has to pay? Okay. Like I was saying, we raised money by getting sponsors for cheer shirts then we could use our money first towards, then towards cheer merchandise. After cheer camp, our coach got married and went on her honeymoon as you would expect. The weird thing is, SHE NEVER CAME BACK. We heard no word from her, she just abandoned us. And all the money we had raised? Also gone. No money to pay for uniforms. No money to make sponsored tees with. No coach to hold up the squad. I asked one of my friends what her thoughts on said coach were:img_1421

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This year also had tons of drama from the cheerleaders on the squad, and surprisingly enough, similar childish actions from coaches. I love everyone involved with my cheerleading experience, and I know I am not perfect (there may have been multiple occasions where I forgot my cheer shoes), but I was shocked by some of their actions sometimes. Not mad at it, just shocked. There were several different occasions were seniors just walked out of practice or games and decided they were done. All the coaches I have ever had would have favorites on the team, which is obviously unfair. There was one specific time I remember well. My school had one huge Varsity cheer squad and no JV squad. Not only did the JV players and parents not appreciate this, but it caused other scheduling issues because normally JV cheerleaders would sell programs or work concessions during Varsity games and there was now no one to do this. Keep in mind that I served my two years of JV and I never had any demerits on the Varsity squad. When people receive demerits for being late, attitude, jewelry on, anything of that sort- they are supposed to be punished and basically never were. With that in mind, the Varsity squad was asked to give up two cheerleaders for every home basket ball game to run concessions. Our coaches decided that those of us that are not strong enough to stunt would be the ones to go to concessions because they do not really need us on the team. First of all, rude. I get the thought process, but it is not our fault that we cannot participate in some of the stunts and we should not be punished for no reason; because let’s be serious, not getting to cheer at a Varsity game is a punishment. Second of all, since we have already established this as a punishment, shouldn’t the girls with demerits be the ones working the concessions? Why do they still get to cheer and stunt as though they have done nothing wrong? Also, if anyone is required to work during a game and it not be considered a punishment, shouldn’t it be the underclassmen cheerleaders? The ones that still have years of cheer to come and have not earned their spot by working their way up to Varsity and doing their JV duties? That is at least how I would have looked at the issue. Anyways, I was called upon to work (the only senior that was), and I asked if there was any way I could not work because it was one of my last games and I did not want to miss any opportunity to cheer since it was my last year. I was then lectured about how I cannot “pull my senior card for everything.” Okay. Whatever. But then, I overheard a sophomore that also was not a key piece to stunting ask if she could not work any of the games and she was told she did not have to work. Excuse me? What? That is fair how??????? Let’s just say I did not work the concessions stand and cheered every single game my senior year. Another shocking thing an adult did was tell a cheerleader she was uncoachable then post on Facebook “Uncoachable Kids become Unemployable Adults.” I’ll stop there.

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With new coaches come changes. This past year we stopped doing pushups for touchdowns and did jumping jacks instead. When a former cheerleader returned to watch a game, she was not happy about the change and chose to talk bad about us all over Facebook about how she was ashamed at what the squad had turned into and so glad that she had graduated last year. I mean, I know we were changing tradition, but come on. None of us could do a proper push up anyways (sad truth). And this was the same cheerleader that quit the day after she got all her awards/recognition on her senior night. And she is ashamed of us???

We all have our faults, myself included. I love everyone that took part in my cheer squad and am only trying to share the conflicts that are bound to arise when so many girls are brought together so that my followers can learn from my honest experiences and be better prepared for theirs (and because posts like these are entertaining to read). My high school cheerleading career was full of crazy, unexpected moments; which is part of why it was so much fun.

I did not realize it as much at the time, but I really loved cheerleading. The outfits, the cheers, the bows, the friends- it was a great experience and I would not take back cheering for my high school for anything. More often then not, I feel out of place and uncertain about what to do with myself. Cheerleading gave me a place I knew I belonged. Honestly though, if you know me, you can imagine how awkward I would be not knowing where to sit in the crowd at the games without my assigned cheerleader spot?? Seriously, I gained friendships I may have never had if it as not for cheer. There was always someone there if I needed someone to talk to or even just someone to sit with in class.

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My favorite thing about actually cheerleading is the band dances, the basket ball cheers, and the endless school spirit. All of these are part of the reason why I am going to miss cheering for my high school so much. Helping kids that normally would not have the chance to participate in these events have that opportunity, making huge banners to run the football team in, running down for every touch down, dancing to the fight song to celebrate every point scored, WEARING MY BOW TO SCHOOL EVERY GAME DAY- these are memories I will cherish forever.

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