Off Topic: Cheerleading — Then and Now

It’s cheerleading competition season, and that means that my weekends have been busier than usual, and this blog has been less active than usual. I was a cheerleader in grade school, but I wasn’t cool enough for it in high school. No, that’s not quite true. I wasn’t good enough at what it takes to be a cheerleader. I was very stiff, and was only able to do a split for try-outs. No way I could do the stuff you had to do for high school cheerleading.

That, and I wasn’t cool enough.

I was telling my daughter’s young coach about the things we used to do for the single competition we were involved in every year. No handsprings, backflips or anything like that. Maybe, we’d do a cartwheel. We would have no music, but we would have a chant. You know the kind:

Double – L – 0!
Our School Mustangs,
To you!

That’s the only one I remember. It was the greeting cheer, which we used to greet the other team. I still remember all the moves. This is a picture of our team. No idea why one girl has a yellow uniform.

They don’t have pyramids like we used to have. We would have pyramids where each girl was literally part of a structure of bodies that was occasionally three girls high. No spotters, either. I was strong, so I was always on the bottom. I would lace my fingers together so a girl could climb up me. She would stand on my shoulder and another girl’s shoulder, and other girls would sort of be in at a half-level. Sometimes, a girl would actually (somehow) climb up two girls to make a third level. All on hardwood floors. Someone in front would do a split. We never dropped anyone.

Nowadays, the squad is all teamwork. They have to do very difficult stunts that are rightly defined as acrobatics. Its nuts. It’s set to music, and there’s at least twenty girls there. For the pyramids, there’s a girl being held up by a bunch of other girls (or guys) while some girls do nothing but stand in the back to catch a flyer (that’s what they are called) who might fall. If one girl is missing, the whole cheer is shot because it is now asymetrical. They do their routine on a special bouncy floor.

We also didn’t have special needs squads. It is trilling to see the big fuss that is made over them at the competitions. In one competition, the girls in the wheelchairs were pushed around by their helpers and they were worked seamlessly into the formation. It was wonderful.

Back when I did cheerleading, to call it a sport was a bit of a stretch. Now, it’s practically a circus performance. The only thing I don’t like about it is some of the uniforms are just too provocative. Fortunately, my daughter’s uniform is as modest as mine was in 1978. The cheerleading uniforms now are just like the ones that the professional cheerleaders wear on the football teams. When the Dallas Cowboys first did it, they were stretching the limits. Now, that’s the norm.

Ah, well.

Thanks for this trip with me down memory lane. I will leave you with another picture. Yes! That’s me!

4 Thoughts to “Off Topic: Cheerleading — Then and Now”

  1. Aw, love the pics! I actually had no clue there were special needs cheerleading squads–there aren’t any that I know of up here.

    Another thing you & I have in common: I did the cheerleading thing in middle school (everyone who tried out made the squad) but didn’t even try out in high school. Never flexible enough. I still can’t touch my toes without bending my knees!

    1. Neither can I! Now I don’t feel so bad about that …

  2. How cute! I’m amazed at the cheerleaders today. I think cheerleading has vastly improved since I was a girl.

  3. Tia Nevitt

    True. It’s incredible and somewhat scary to watch.

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