In fact, until very recently, as in two months ago, I'd never thought of American cheerleaders as anything other than pretty, yet bitchy high school girls in tiny skirts, high-kicking and yelling 'Go Team'!
Oh, how wrong I was! After a friend/cheer mUm showed me 'actual' competition cheerleading, I realized that, the movies, although incredibly entertaining and yes, filled with short skirts and high-kicks, only focused on the not always true, 'pretty and bitchy' part, rather than the fact that these young women (and boys) were actually exceptional gymnasts and dancers.
So, when I heard that the Rota Admirals Varsity Cheerleaders' were hosting an all day Cheer Clinic, with the invitation to cheer and dance at this and next weekend's home games, I was SOLD!
Unfortunately the age requirement for me expired, like, 20 years ago, so instead, I registered my, never wanted to be a cheerleader step-daughter, with the hope that, if anything she'd meet some new friends and have a fun day doing something out of her comfort zone...dancing and cheering, even if she does have her Dad's dancing (I think that's what he calls it) genes!!!
After a full day of hearing 'Wipe Out' over and over and over again and endless cheer rehearsals, led by the talented Varsity Cheerleaders, the 70 or so girls, including Alena were ready to strut their stuff at the home game.
Only one thing left to do...turn Alena into the picture perfect image of a cheerleader, and that's where I, with eyes sparkling, a big cheer bow, and a can of hairspray, came in! A few 'ouches' and 'cough, spluttter's' later and her makeover was complete.
She looked beautiful, the perfect cheerleader. However, it was only after she walked out on that field and started dancing and cheering, that her beautiful smile and newfound confidence truly blossomed. And, as for the dance moves, surprisingly enough they resembled those of the actual cheerleaders in front of her, it was fantastic!
One day of being thrown out of her comfort zone, being pushed to try something new, despite the pre-clinic whining and sulking, turned out to be a wonderful eye opener for both of us. Just one day of being surrounded by the young and contagiously confident Varsity Cheerleaders' and she was ready to take on the world.
And, hearing her say 'I love my hair, I rate myself an 8' was the spark that showed me this 'self-confessed' shy, awkward 12-year old tomboy had finally burst out of her shell with a roaring GO ME!
Give me a C.R.I.K.E.Y!