In Texas every little girl dreams of being a cheerleader, queen of the school, envy of all. Even I aspired to that loftiest of positions and at the end of sixth grade I signed up to compete in the junior high tryouts.
Now, picture me at age twelve. At 5’6″, I was easily the tallest girl in my class, and at 90 pounds, one of the skinniest. I was all elbows and knees, and not very attractive, and that’s putting it mildly.
Perhaps if I’d had even a modicum of grace, my geekiness might’ve been endearing, but I walked like a long-legged baby bird. In fact, one of my nicknames back then was Ostrich. Nevertheless I had the gumption to place my name in the cheerleading competition, along with most of the other girls in my sixth grade class.
For several weeks my friends and I met after school every day to work on learning the cheers and the movements that went with them. The reigning junior high cheerleaders provided coaching and inspiration, and for one very brief and shining moment I thought that maybe, just maybe I had a shot at earning a spot on the squad.
Then on the eve of competition I overheard our sixth grade teachers bemoaning our chances. “They’re just all so uncoordinated,” laughed one.
“Well, crap,” I remember thinking. I didn’t tell any of my friends what I’d heard, and I still practiced my moves, but with little hope.
Tryouts were a big deal. It wasn’t a popularity contest back then, and as I recall, cheerleaders from Wayland Baptist College in Plainview, Texas, came to judge our competition. This was the big time!
Our teachers reminded us to smile as we went before the team of judges. I’m pretty sure my smile looked as if rigor mortis had set in. I was petrified. In my mind I can picture my awkward skinny ass trying to execute a perfect cheer followed by the mandatory celebratory jump, and I know I most likely looked like a baby stork trying to leave the nest for the first time and failing miserably.
When the results were read, only one girl from my elementary school made the team, and we all half heartedly celebrated her rise to stardom. I never tried out again, and I don’t regret that decision. Now, if I had to do it all over again, I’d go for it. And my sassy ass might not get picked, but they’d never forget me either. Oh, to be young again for one brief and shining moment!
Rah, rah, and peace, people.