Many stories herein are subject to the faulty, and sometimes creative, memory of the blog owner and should not be taken as factual, although the names and events are real! Kind of.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I Used To Be A Cheerleader

Red and White's our colors
Tigers is our name
And Spirit is the reason
We're going to win this game!

I know. You're amazed. Go ahead. You didn't think I had it in me--to be up in front of a crowd, being an encourager at a SPORTING event? Jumping around, screaming, yelling, all that business!

Umm Hmm. I was a cheerleader. The very first cheerleader in our family. My sisters were cheerleaders also and for more years than I--but I was the first of the Jones Girls to cheer a team on to victory and I'm sure that my sisters looked up at me, and wanted to follow in my footsteps. Right Paula and Andi? I was your inspiration?

Yep--I was a cheerleader. The year was 1977. I was in eighth grade. I thought I was awesome! I thought my friends were awesome. They thought I was awesome--we were awesome!

Eighth Grade year was going to be THE best. The wait had seemed eternal. Ever since I figured out that those cool, self-confident girls in the red and white uniforms with the swirly skirts were not only Eighth Graders, but also CHEERLEADERS--well, words can not even begin to describe the anticipation, the breathless wonder, the, the, the, Oh my. I can't even tell you!

My friends and I would stand in the vestibule during the basketball games and practice our routines. We planned to be the BEST cheerleaders ever. We practiced jumps. We practiced yells. We made up yells. We made up routines. We shook our booty! And that was before it was called a booty! And we were so awesome, even in fourth grade, that people would pass by and stare. They were that amazed!

All summer long, between the seventh and eighth grade year, my friends, Jana, Debbie, Danna and I discussed what we would do, what we would wear. What kind of shoes to get. Sometimes we had to break off in mid discussion because my neighbor, Junne would break into the party line and need to use the phone for a real emergency. Or was that Ethel? Or maybe it was one of their neighbors--but we had to use the phone because there was no privacy on the CB. I'm not kidding either.

Jana and I went to church together and sometimes (occassionally, maybe once, but not often!) we would ever-so-nonchantly leave one at a time during the (long and boring) sermon to meet in the bathroom and plan for our bright and shining, "Dallas Cowboys here we come," future. I'm sure no one ever noticed. Our church was huge--at least 40 on a good Sunday....

As a group we took a trip to Woodward. The four cheerleaders and our mothers. A trip to choose fabric and a pattern. A trip to pick out shoes (Keds) and matching socks (knee socks). A trip in which we giggled and laughed and probably drove people crazy with how delighted we were with ourselves and our status as the school's CHEERLEADERS. I hope you noticed that we were picking fabric and patterns. Yes. Fabric. And Patterns. Our 'uniforms' were home-made. With Keds and Knee Socks. Go Figure. But none of that mattered because we were CHEERLEADERS!

The day finally came when our principal's secretary called us into the office to receive our long awaited monogrammed name and pom poms. The sacred red and white pom-poms and the fluffy script version of our name that would proudly be safety pinned to our chest (you can't wash those you see!). It was a sad disappointment when the box of pom poms was opened and they appeared much smaller and flatter than we had ever imagined. Boy, were we relieved when it was explained that you had to scrunch them and fluff them and squeeze them and shake them and scrunch them some more to achieve maximum round, fluffiness. (hmmm--could this explain my body shape--scrunched and squeezed? too much love?) But I digress..... Give your pom poms another shake (and squeeze) if you remember doing this!

At last, November rolled around. It was time. Time for the first Basketball game of the season. The first Basketball game of the season where we would not only play our first basketball game but also the first game where we would don our uniforms and shake our pom poms and jump and yell and be cool and self-confident and cheer for the boys.

I don't know if the boys won their game. I probably didn't care if they won because I was a cheerleader and everything else just kind of got mumbled and jumbled in my head beyond the cheering crowds and the smell of frito chili pie and the fizz of Pop Rocks.

I'm sad to say that I was only a cheerleader for that one year. That one bright, shining moment in time. That one year when I was self-confident and poised and cool. At least in my mind. You see, at Garrett, the rural school I attended, every Eighth Grade girl got to be a cheerleader. No matter what she looked like. No matter if she could jump. No matter if she looked good in a uniform. A girl did not need shiny, swingy hair. She could have glasses or braces or the straightest teeth in the universe. She didn't have to sell anything to pay for camp. She didn't have to look like, or do, or be anything! She just had to be herself.

And in eighth grade! The secretary could order anyone's name in the fuzzy red and white script. And a uniform could be tailored to anyone's size. And there were always little girls, looking up to her, anticipating breathlessly the day that they could don that red and white uniform and yell:

Red and White's our colors
Tigers is our name
and Spirit is the reason
We're going to win this game!

From Left: Jana, Dawn, Julie, Debbie and Danna.
Go ahead, laugh. You know you want too. And we already did!


Becky said...

I love this story! I too was a cheerleader - and all of our uniforms were homemade (I guess now the sweater - we didn't knit them). I'll never forget the year we got to have two uniforms! One for basketball and one for football. We were finally uptown! By the way, I am "Mashed Potatoes" - how did they know what I look like?

Anonymous said...

Well, that made me cry, just remembering. You were all so cute and we were proud. See the example you set. Your sisters had a good example to follow. You always tried to be the best example. M

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