Do you have a cheerleading squad to encourage you through life’s wins and losses?
As the season came to an end for our small-town high school volleyball team, I admired the enthusiasm of the student cheering section and how their optimism fueled the girls, coaches and fans. The student crowd, also known as the Border Patrol, continued to lead cheers through the final seconds of the season ending loss in the regional championship game. Even though the game didn’t end in favor of the South Border Mustangs, the students and fans congregated on the court to offer hugs and encouraging words.
Gone are the days of traditional cheerleading squads in our small towns. In the hundreds of high school games I’ve sat through in the past four years, I can count on one hand the number of teams that still have cheerleading squads. The high school I attended 20 years ago was larger than our school in Wishek. Cheerleaders stood on the sidelines for the majority of sports, even ice hockey.
My sophomore year of high school our girls’ basketball team only won five games. The second half of the game was physically and emotionally draining. Despite what the scoreboard reflected, our cheerleaders did their job. Today, I can still recite our faithful cheerleaders’ chant: “We are proud of our Knights … and we will cheer them on until this game is through.”
Even though I’m not a 15-year-old struggling through losing 15 games, I still need cheerleaders in my life. I’m a frazzled mom, wife, small business owner, volunteer, daughter, sister and friend. Like you, I face challenges and ups and downs. In our adult life we often don’t have a cheering squad to “see us through” like the cheerleaders did for me in high school.
As an adult, I’ve discovered there are a few people who would rather see me fail than cheer me on. They’re the negative, bring-me-downers who don’t have an encouraging bone in their body. Thankfully, I’m blessed with a supportive group of cheerleaders in my life to counter the pessimistic voices. Their cheers aren’t amplified over a megaphone, but their intimate words of encouragement motivate me. Their prayers help me focus my priorities. Their notes are tucked away in my nightstand and I can pull them out when the negativity starts to shake me.
The “Border Patrol” students at our high school dressed with a theme for every home volleyball game. Beach night; black out; pink night; red, white and blue America; Christmas; and black and blue school colors filled the stands throughout the season. Homemade poster board signs, original cheers and deafening chants that threw off opponents from time to time gave the “Border Patrol” cheering section their own identity. An older sister of a volleyball player said to me, “I wish the boys would have cheered for us when I played sports in high school.”
Are we too old now to create our own identity and cheer on those around us without abandonment? Absolutely not. Wherever you are in life, be a cheerleader. Without worry or fear of what others will think, encourage the people around you. Our neighbors and communities need you and me to step out to cheer them through life’s wins and losses.
Who was/is a cheerleader in your life?
The piece was originally published as my weekly column in Agweek.