Why I Cheered

I don’t know if I posted this before, but I’m a guy.  I started cheering in 1990 when I started college.  I was never a gymnast.  I was not an all star or high school cheerleader.  I started from scratch.  Lots of people have asked me how or why I got into cheering.  The specifics that led me to my first clinic and tryout are actually pretty mundane and probably would not mean much to anyone else.  I will just touch on them briefly for the sake of background.  However, the things that kept me involved throughout college and led me to a career in the cheerleading industry have a lot more to say about what cheerleading is all about.  That is what I want to focus on in this post.

It was completely random that I was ever introduced to college coed cheerleading.  A guy in the dorms that I met the first week said he was going to tryout and asked if I wanted to tag along.  I assumed he was inviting me to go check out all the cute girls.  I had no idea he meant for us to tryout.  Regardless, if not for a random invitation and my shallow desire to check out girls, I never would have started down the path of over 20 years of cheer.

As a complete novice to cheerleading, the first thing that got me hooked was the challenge of it.  I was a pretty good high school athlete and was used to picking up most things pretty quickly.  Stunting and tumbling was not like most things.  I probably spent a full practice working on a basic chair.  It was at least a week before I could toss to hands.  The rewarding thing about stunting and tumbling was that you could tell you were getting better.  The progress was tangible.  And eventually, something clicked, and you could do something that you had never been able to do before.  It was the kind of challenge and reward that really motivates you to stick with it.  I am told it is like playing a round of golf.  You hit a ton of bogies.  Finally, you get just one perfect shot and make a birdie, and that is what bring you back.  I don’t golf so I don’t know if that is a good analogy, but I can say that for me, that is what got me hooked on cheering.

Here’s another reason I cheered.  I was kind of a showoff.  Not in a reality TV, Paris Hilton, look at me, kind of way.  Just a basic class clown.  So being involved in cheerleading where you are expected to get in front of people and entertain them was a pretty good match.  Now, despite being a class clown, that was in small groups.  I had the very common fear of public speaking.  Cheerleading was a great opportunity to get me past that.  The first even I ever cheered at was a football game with 50,000 fans in the crowd.  Getting in front of all of that was great for me.  Also, there were all of the alumni events.  I am kind of introverted.  That was not an option when I was told to mingle at a tailgate picnic for a booster group.  I had to learn the art of small talk.  Cheerleading led me to many opportunities to come out of my shell.  At first, I was scared to death of them.  But eventually, I became very comfortable.  This is probably the biggest benefit cheering had for me.

The last reason I cheered that I am going to bring u.p here is that it provided some truly unique opportunities.  Cheering has taken me to Walt Disney World, for free, at least 40 times.  Cheering has taken me to dozens of cities in the US, not to mention Canada and the United Kingdom.  Cheering has provided me with the chance to meet some world famous people.  I have shaken hands with Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, and Olympic Gold Medal gymnasts.  I know cheerleaders who have been to the White House.  Cheerleaders have gone on to be cast member for Cirque du Soliel.  Cheerleading led me to start my own business.  I think I would have sought out lots of cool things to do even if I had never cheered, but I really believe I would not have had so many special trips and experiences had I never cheered.

There is a lot more to the story than just this, but I think this gives a good look at the main points.  Cheering involved a lot of sacrifices and risks.  But sacrifice and risk are the things that lead to personal growth and achievement.  I know that cheerleading help me become the person I am, which I am proud to say is someone who is very happy.  I have a lot to be thankful for, and that includes the opportunity I had to be a cheerleader.

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