They Say Cotton is the Fabric of Our Lives But I’m Pretty Sure Spandex is the Fabric of Mine/ Series Part 3/ Cheerleading Continued


I’m not even sure how to do this experience justice. I get overwhelmed with gratitude every time I sit down to write.


I have to start with the gratitude I have for my coach Barb. She became a third parent while my parents were going through a divorce. She taught me how to show up and give 100% especially when it was uncomfortable, accountability, responsibility, ownership, leadership and self love. She was my first real example of a strong female leader and for her example I will forever be thankful. She was tough when she needed to be but also the warmest hug when you needed her to be. She figured out how to motivate me and took every opportunity to do so for four years. I could count on her and I didn’t realize the weight of that at the time but it is why today she is a tattoo on my heart.

PHOTO/ Lifestyle Portraits UNIFORM/ Varsity Circa 2000

Next would the have to be the gratitude I have for every teammate I shared that purple mat with. They helped me grow in more ways than I could list and quite literally lifted me up. Not to mention, the support I felt from my community and classmates. I couldn’t have asked for a better audience. Once again, I did not understand the weight of that until I left for college and the audience became a vast sea of empty faces.

NIKE/ Sideline Cheer

A sincere thank you to everyone in that community that made cheerleading what it was for me.

They Say Cotton is the Fabric of Our Lives But I’m Pretty Sure Spandex is the Fabric of Mine/ Series Part 2/ Cheerleading

NIKE/ Sideline Cheer

My first exposure to cheerleading was when my mom signed me up for a camp at our local community college. It consisted of learning a half time dance and performing it at a basketball game or something of that nature. I remember having fun but what I remember was actually a who. Her name was Debbie and she was unlike any other adult I had met in my whole 9 years of life. She could do a back walkover and she was beautiful, athletic and bubbly. Four years later I tried out for my first cheerleading team and much to my pleasure that same amazing women became my coach.

While gymnastics came a little more naturally to my personality cheerleading certainly did not. I was quiet and serious and only had a few close friends. The thought of performing in front of the same peers who would see me later in class felt utterly terrifying. Somehow the fun found me despite my social anxiety and I started to set goals in this new arena and take ownership of it.

Our team was practicing over at Debbie’s house before school had officially started and afterward we all came inside to cool down and wait for our parents to pick us up.  Debbie entertained us with an old picture from her college cheer days while we waited. There was so much energy captured within the borders of that one frame; a sea of green and yellow fans at Autzen Stadium, a three person tall pyramid in the background but all I could see was her personality and smile. It still brings a lump to my throat to think of how much seeing one picture can change one person’s path. Debbie inspired me just by being herself from the moment I met her and although we only worked together a short time she was the inspiration for me spending the next 6 years in cheer.

While Debbie may have been my inspiration for cheerleading, my high school coach Barb was really the one that helped me reach the goal of college cheer. She is a human that so profoundly shaped me in my youth that she at the very least deserves her own post.

Cheerleading continued…