Tuesday, January 24, 2012
C Is For Cheerleader
This past week, my husband and I had the opportunity to attend an exciting, Junior Varsity Basketball game at our local High School - OACS. GO HORNETS! Since neither of our sons played basketball, it had been over thirty five years since I attended my last game. The sights, sounds and smells were all the same, We however were much older. Our nine year old granddaughter was about to attend her first game, as a junior cheerleader. So of course, her papa and I had to be there to cheer her on, as she cheered on the team.
Oh my goodness, she looked so grown up. How could that have happened? One day she’s running around, our beautiful little girl, and the next she’s sitting with the cheer leading squad, blond hair pulled up in the appropriate pony tail, wearing her blue and gold tee-shirt, and tentatively cheering her first game ever. I might add, she did fantastic. All the kids did.
Sitting on the bleachers, as unwanted pain from an injured collar bone gripped me, I couldn’t tell you much about the game. I knew by the score board that we were winning, but don’t ask me much else about the game. What I do remember is watching the young boys playing their hearts out. Running back and forth, attempting to block the other team, shooting baskets - missing many, but make enough. I remember watching them fall and get up, make fouls and keep on going, and ultimately proudly, and courteously, celebrating their win. I also remember the cheerleaders.
Whether sitting on the bleachers, or standing out on the floor, they cheered the team on. If a player made a basket, they cheered. If he fouled, they cheered him on. If he made a mistake, they cheered him on. I heard no jeering, no shouts of condemnation. No, “what are you doing?.” What I did hear, not only from the cheerleaders, but from the spectators as well, was encouragement. Oh, there were a few shouts to the ref, but these were too few to mention, and were from the other team.
Watching the game, got me to thinking. If only our lives could be like a basketball game. Standing on the side-lines would be our own personal cheer leading squad. When we do something great - they shout cheers for us. When we mess up, and perhaps fall down - they are there to cheer us and encourage us, never making us feel stupid or worthless. I know for myself, I am my own biggest critic. If I mess up, I can beat myself silly. My self-esteem drops to the basement, and all I can see is my mistake. I assume that is also what others see as well. “How could I have done that? How could I be so stupid? I’ll never try to do that again.”
Perhaps we should all try to look at life as a basketball game. There will be times when we shoot perfect baskets, the ball swooshes neatly through the net, and the crowd cheers. There will also be times in our lives, and the lives of others, when we make mistakes. We drop the ball. We miss the net all together. We trip and fall for all to see. These are the times when we not only need to be our own cheerleader, but also when we need to be a leader of cheer for others who need encouragement.
When I was a teenager I will admit I did not appreciate our cheerleaders. They were the popular girls. The girls all the boys wanted to date, and most of the athletes did. They were pretty and entities onto themselves. I, as a teen, was intimidated by cheerleaders. Now, as an adult, as a grandmother, I can see the vital role cheerleaders play. They encourage and uplift our team, when our players are at their most vulnerable. Our cheerleaders set a positive example for all the spectators, who may or may not, become too personally involved in the game, and the outcome. And last week, our granddaughter had the opportunity to also uplift and encourage, not just the players, but myself, and I am sure many others, as we watched our team give its all. I hope we can also do the same.