By Anita Doberman
This past weekend I attended my oldest daughter’s first cheerleading competition. Actually, it was also my first cheerleading competition.
I arrived at this event with mixed feelings. Cheerleading has been a big point of contention between my husband and me. Unfortunately, while he agreed to let our daughter be part of a competitive squad, he continues to be upset about the fact that she is involved in this activity — he refuses to call it a sport and this is part of the issue. Not a conversation goes by on the phone, that he doesn’t make some remarks about the evil nature of cheerleading. I usually let it go — we don’t want to fight during our long distance calls — but it bothers me. It really gets under my skin.
I value my husband’s opinion more than anyone else in my life: his arguments against cheerleading have made me second guess myself on more than one occasion. So, while I was supportive about my daughter’s hard work and efforts, I arrived at this event with a heavy heart.
The competition was held at a conference center full of spectators, 6,000 people to be exact, with a large stage, bright lights, loud music and teams everywhere. When we first walked in my daughter told me that she was scared of the stage, which only added to my uncertainties.
While my daughter went to warm up with her team, I took my seat in the auditorium. I thought the only thing I had do while waiting was to obsess over what my husband would say if he were with me, and also ask myself if I was living my dream — of a missed cheerleader, through my daughter’s efforts. But, as I sat down to watch the show I forgot about these thoughts it and had a great time seeing these young athletes perform.
When my daughter came on the stage with her team she was radiant. She smiled, she laughed, she made some mistakes, she did her best, and above all she had fun. Afterwards, she told me that she couldn’t wait for the next competition, it was so much fun.
There I had the answer to my doubts. Yes, I would have loved to be a cheerleader, I like the bright lights, the stage, the performance and the music, it corresponds to many of the things I did growing up, and it’s similar to my dream of becoming a dancer. At the same time, it’s also something that my daughter loves and wants to do and for which she works very hard.
To ease any doubts about the spirit of this sport — yes, I do consider cheerleading a sport — the 6,000 spectators present at this competition were granted an amazing gift. A squad of mentally and physically handicapped girls took the stage and performed a routine which included stunts, dance moves, choreography and pure cheer fun. These outstanding individuals not only showed us that anything is possible but also that cheerleading is an amazing sport.
I told my husband about our experience and the special squad we saw. While he was happy, he still hasn’t changed his mind. It may be an uphill battle, but I know that when he sees how much our daughter applies herself to this sport he will be proud of her.
Until then, I will keep cheering him along.
Anita Doberman is a freelance writer, mother of five and wife of an Air Force pilot stationed at Hurlburt AFB in Florida. The family expects to be moving to Cannon Air Force Base in the next year. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org