Saturday, December 6, 2014

12.06.2014 -- Supposition and Surprise

Life is full of surprises. (No, really.) 

This summer, we discovered that cheerleading as a sport fits Lucy well. It’s a natural, more social, step from gymnastics and tumbling. Maybe you are like me several years ago. You already know what you think about cheerleading, even though you haven't spent much time around cheerleaders. You went to school with cheerleaders. You saw what they brought to basketball games and football games.

Please read and complete the following phrases:

White people are:
Black people are:
Asians are:
Polynesians are:
Vegetarians are:
Football players are:
Ballet dancers are:
Computer programmers are:
Cheerleaders are:

Let me tell you what cheerleaders are. Cheerleaders are dedicated, tough-as-nails (get kicked in the face much?), hard-working, funny, and smart. Cheerleaders spend hours and hours building skills and fine-tuning group routines that are physically and mentally demanding. 

Some cheerleaders are *amazing* tumblers. Some have to work harder to get their skills. Some cheerleaders look like they might model on the side. Some have more unconventional looks. Some cheerleaders are dressed to impress most of the time. To some, fashion isn’t even an afterthought. 

Cheerleading is a team sport. Nothing quite fosters team building than literally lifting, supporting and catching your teammates when they fly or fall (or flail). It’s as much a team sport as soccer. I love soccer. I love watching kids run after the ball and pour their own energy into a collective effort. I love games in weather and how kids and spectators are reminded that people don’t shrivel up when we are out in the rain or even snow.

When soccer was Lucy's main sport, I felt fine mentioning it. Lucy has soccer practice... Lucy has a soccer game. Because of my own prejudice, I am still wary of talking about her involvement with cheerleading. How sad. The sport of cheerleading is great, it's just different.

One thing that separates cheerleading from sports like soccer is the preparation time. Depending on the coach, soccer can be as much as 100% competition. Soccer athletes could still play games (compete) without practices, but, like gymnastics or dance, cheer(leading) has a very different profile. Competition time comes in closer to 1%, with practice at 99%. Like most other team sports, if a teammate is missing, it can make a truly effective practice nearly impossible. 

Did I miss national coming out day? I'm
coming out, world. I am proud mother to a cheerleader, an athlete who loves her time in the gym and her team.

I love watching my daughter at cheer practice. I love seeing her and her team all giving 100% to be in the right place at the right time, to put those hours and hours of training to work in getting their jumps high and right, to contributing their own hard-won tumbling pass to the routine, to (literally) supporting their teammates or trusting their peers not to let them fall. I see these kids practicing and I see kids (yes, her team is all girls) who are learning about the value of consistency, dedication, and preparation. They are learning that they (literally) have the power to send themselves or their teammates flying into the air, and to bring them down safely. I see girls who, despite not being built the same, are confident in their own skins because they can do amazing things with their bodies. 

I love cheer.

The other night, Lucy and I learned how to do her team's competition hairstyle and make-up. I feel like a dance mom/gymnastic mom hybrid!