I’m about to reenter the magical, mystical world of cheerleading again. I’m just a tiny bit apprehensive. I was a cheerleader in high school, but that was in the stone ages before there were competitions, and flyers, and those f*$%&g bows. Ava had cheered in second grade, part of a youth athletic league in our old school district. This was an “all-kids-who-want-to-can” league, and so that year there were about 30 girls on the squad. I repeat, thirty girls. First and second-graders. Watching them cheer sometimes was painful, if only because choreographing thirty little girls with varying degrees of coordination and talent has got to be challenging, my daughter included. God bless my little angel – she is smart, funny, strong, athletic, a bit awkward, and extremely accident prone.
Nevertheless, I coughed up the $100-plus to participate, and attended the “fitting” night where all the squads in the league squeezed into a room smaller than my bedroom to try on and purchase shoes, socks, bloomers, and bodysuit for an additional $60, and pick the uniform that best fit them. This was before I found out that cheerleaders all wear bows now. One of the moms/coaches was going to make them, and the cost for each would be $6. Personally, I don’t get the bow thing. I think they look ridiculous, but since I’m not the Goddess of Cheer, I’ve kept my mouth shut. However, I did complain loudly to Todd that the materials to make said bows did NOT cost $180 (30 girls times $6 – do the math people!). I’d bet the farm on that one.
And then there was the minor stuff, like the guy who ran the league and his email updates that were riddled with colossal spelling and grammar mistakes. I’m really not a snob about that stuff, really I’m not – but I do think when you’re, like, the president of an organization…. it matters whether you can use the appropriate from of there/their/they’re in a league-wide email. There were parents who apparently got involved in a “situation” on the field with the parents of the other team, and there were emails about that in case anyone missed it (I did, being too busy snapping 200 photos of my angel cheering her little heart out).
And then there was The Competition. All the squads in our league went up against all the squads in the other leagues on a loud and raucous Saturday morning in a hot gymnasium, an event surpassed in grandeur only by the Ringing Bros. Circus. Ava’s squad was pumped for this fun-filled display of cheerleading prowess – and, as I watched the other squads perform, the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach grew stronger. And then I got pissed. Pissed, because I knew they didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning trophies, and no one talked with them about just enjoying the experience. I saw the disappointment on their faces, and I saw them crying as they left the gymnasium empty-handed. Way too much drama for me.
So, when Ava came home from school one day and said there were cheerleading tryouts TODAY and can I go, please…please can I go?? my first instinct was, oh hell no. Not because I didn’t want to be a part of this again, or because I thought she wouldn’t make the squad, but because she’s been saying she wants to play sports and she hasn’t cheered in over 2 years and we just found out about this today. Secretly, I couldn’t help but remember the cringe-worthy competition either. I expressed my concerns about all this and she said, well, it doesn’t matter if I make it. It’ll be fun and at least I tried, right? (Shining example of child teaching parent.) And so we went. Three nights of practice and then tryouts, and she came out with the pink slip that says you’re in!
And so here we are. Last night was the MANDATORY parents’ meeting, where the code of conduct was laid out, along with practice and game information, obligations and expenses, camp information and payments for it along with purchase of The Bow.
I learned the coaches names for each squad, and that most are certified in CPR, concussion, First Aid, and one is an EMT. I guess this is a good thing, since safety is their “number one priority,” although –as the program advisor stated – “sometimes kids do get dropped.” (Let’s hope my kid isn’t one of them.) There are a number of strict rules about behavior, conduct, uniform, and attendance – all punishable by warnings, and (after 3) eventual dismissal. They are only allowed to have water or clear beverages in their uniforms (no food) and any infringement will result in laps around the field. This should present an interesting situation should Ava have a low during cheer. I hope I have time to wrap her in a tarp before I give her juice. I have to keep the uniform clean by hand-washing and line-drying it. I’ve always wanted a washline outside – I’ll just have to remember to take it down before Todd mows. Heh heh.
I wrote a check yesterday for $35 for mandatory camp in July (which just happens to end the day the kids and I leave for Cape May with my mom) – four days of practice which includes 2 camp “outfits” for two of the days. Apparently the hair bow is really special here – the girls’ names are on them – and I guess nothing is sacred from inflation, so they cost $16 each (and cash only). Registration for cheer is $105 plus a $30 fundraising fee and a $30 concession stand deposit (yes – a deposit) – because parents can’t be trusted to honor their commitment without leaving one (refunded after you serve your time).
Then, we are required to purchase the shoes ($17.95), the Dream Duffle ($12.95), socks ($2.95), crop top ($12.75), and briefs ($4.75). The grand total for this new adventure of ours? $270. Excluding the cost of the jacket she also has to have which wasn’t listed and so I have no idea what that will cost yet. And a black bra – I’m assuming this is really for the girls who actually need one? And, since she has a pump, I will either buy or sew it myself – a pump band for under her uniform. (It’s this really cool band that goes around the midriff and holds the pump close to the body so it doesn’t bounce around.) Not to mention time commitments like mandatory practice FIVE days a week beginning the only week we (as a family) can take a vacation, until school starts and then becomes any number of days to be determined by the individual coaches. And two fundraisers over the summer – the Color Run and Applebee’s and there’s some raffle selling going on too. Look out neighbors – we’re coming for ya! And 10 games. (And no mention of the “C” word – ssshh!)
I can’t wait to get this party started.
But first – 4th grade field trip tomorrow.