The team raced onto the field screaming a battle cry! From high in the stands my aging eyes tried (and failed) to pick out my own son. The boys were all wearing identical uniforms and moved as one large and loud mass through a tunnel created by two parallel lines of cheerleaders.
My husband, other son and I blended into the large and loud mass wearing uniforms of our own and stacked on the bleachers. The football team was the main attraction, the rest of us the support and encouragement crew.
The cheerleaders skipped into place on the sidelines. In unison they began clapping, jumping and singing in a staccato rhythm for the team to, “Go! Fight! Win!” Years of football bleacher time has taught me that those cheerleaders would be shouting the team to victory until the last buzzer of the final quarter. Even when the scoreboard and the emptying stadium suggest otherwise they will be proclaiming that success is possible.
I’ve been to football games without all the extra people. No mass of parents and friends in the stands rooting for the players to work their hardest; no cheerleaders to sing songs of belief in the team’s abilities.
Were the games as exciting?
Did the players work as hard being self-motivated?
I think so.
Was it the same experience all around?
Cheerleaders, whether clad in fluttering skirts and big bows or in T-shirts and jeans, enhance the experience and help. They help the team a lot.
But off the field, we all need our cheerleaders.
I’m not talking about having my own personal squad doing jumps and shouting, “Come on Susan, You can do it, I know you can!” while I face any kind or level of challenge, but I need a different version. I need my people.
As parents we spend a lot of time cheering on our kids. We cheer for them when they first roll over. “Come on baby! I know you can do it! Just push, push, push!” We cheer those first steps, first pottying and first solo ride on a two-wheeler. “You’ve got this! Keep going!” Our cheers help pick them up when they fall and sprint when they are almost there.
But who are our cheerleaders?
My varsity starters uniform contains shared DNA, a last name, an address or a very long personal history; they have earned the title, “Family.”
But sometimes I need a secondary elite squad who have earned the title, “Friends.” Sometimes the only encouragement that works comes from someone who I don’t share a bed, house or lifetime with.
Sometimes I need the specialty cheers of this group to push the negative, losing feelings out of my head.
Push ‘em back, push ‘em back, push ‘em waaay back!
Sometimes I need to hear someone who I have let into my life laugh at, with or — on some really tough days — for me.
Gimme an L! Gimme an A! Gimme an UGH!
I need to hear the same things I tell my kids.
You caaaaan…doooo it!
I need to know that the path I’m on may have potholes ahead but that I’m not alone as I navigate around, over or through them.
What is the key to vic-tory? Control! Control!
Sometimes knowing that they are proud to be a part of my journey gives my efforts just enough fuel to cross the finish line or to comfort me in defeat.
We say it loud because we’re proud, Go YOU!
And sometimes I get to repay the gift, take the field, and loudly cheer them on to victory.
Susan Vollenweider lives in Smithville. For more of her writing, go to thehistorychicks.com.