I had my mom monogram a red and white cheerleading uniform with Memorial and my name when I was just a little girl. I switched gears a little bit during elementary school when I started to spend the majority of my time in a leotard on a four-inch balance beam. I watched Carly Patterson take home gold in awe, but when I realized late in middle school that I needed to choose between my gymnastics career and a social life, the choice was a no-brainer. I quit gymnastics and began taking cheerleading privates. With the help of the goddess of cheerleading (and my coach for over three years), Dana Biggers, I learned how to transform my years of pointed toes and graceful hands to sharp motions and high Vs.
At the end of freshman year, tryouts rolled around for the relatively newly formed junior varsity squad they had formed for underclassmen to be able to participate in cheerleading. I had put in plenty of hours and wanted more than anything to be a part of something at Memorial. I remember crying tears of joy as my sister Carolyn and I saw the congratulatory email that I had made the squad. I had to call my mom and dad to tell them the good news because they were in Boston at the time.
I spent the following two years on the JV squad alongside only Aubrey Kirkpatrick as we made friends from the grades above and below us. Though JV cheer may not have the spotlight, fame, glory and only half as many uniforms as the v-squad, I'll never forget those two years for the friendships, many laughs, and discipline it instilled in me.
I didn't know what to expect when varsity finally rolled around. I knew it was going to be different having a whole squad with my grade rather than just me and Aubs being the minority. And boys being in the picture would definitely shake things up. But this was what I had been waiting for--being a Memorial Varsity Cheerleader! And after two great years already, I didn't know if it could be topped. I was proved very very very wrong. I will eternally treasure the memories I made with varsity cheerleading. I may sound overly effusive, but words can't describe how blessed I was to be a part of this and how amazing of an experience it was. When we all made the squad, we were quite the motley crew to say the least. But we looked beyond our differences and our wide range of social spheres and became one big happy family. I learned so much from each and every individual. I'll let the pictures do most of the story-telling of this yearlong adventure that I will always hold close to my heart.
Here's that motley crew I spoke of at our first event--the red and white spring pep rally as the old varsity hands off the school to us.
And a summer separated us from the infamous, the notorious, the legendary cheer camp.
Though a usually dreaded and horribly awesome experience, varsity year was the best by far. We laughed until our stomachs hurt (well maybe that also due to the chips, puppy chow, and Wheat Thins we ate in excessive amounts). We blasted Grape Jelly Man to drain out the sounds of the peppy cheerleaders and we realized that we had a great year to look forward to together.
We developed a unity and fellowship that only grew stronger as the year progressed.
And we entered football season as soon as we returned to MHS for one last year with our first test against our longtime rival Stratford. The first week being war week kicked off the year on the right foot with school spirit in full swing from the get-go.
We ran and tumbled out onto the field with almost as much enthusiasm and adrenalin as the boys in pads and helmets that followed us.
If spending time together at practice, pep rallies, seventh period, and at the games wasn't enough, we also had tailgates before the games where many a photo shoot took place.
We were on the field before a single fan showed. Oh, and we inherited a manager who is pictured in the center named Katherine Helper. What we would have done without ya, Kath, I just don't know.
We warmed up stunts and tumbling before to ensure we didn't have our most embarrassing moments in front of the better part of the student body.
The boys loved every minute (okay maybe not every minute), but they loved being on the field to cheer on their fellow football boys...
Using and/or abusing their megaphone rights...
Male bonding with all the "cheermen"...
Getting to know their assigned cheer partner girls...
Or simply being around all these lovely ladies at once, but of course.
We were well represented in the Homecoming Court, but the alternative of being on the cheer float ain't too bad either.
We didn't take ourselves too seriously.
And I think the student body wouldn't know what to do with themselves if all eleven of us weren't perfectly matched every Friday.
And as superheroes, we had superpowers like...
Okay, but let's be real here. We got the energy to do all those things with our hearty appetites. Rarely was a game not followed up by a late night stop at Mamma's Cafe or Whataburger for a honey butter chicken biscuit fix. Sad story but a true one.
We spent what little time during halftime with our rowdy friends in the stands.
And the little time we had outside of school and cheer, we still spent with each other. Even going on traveling adventures!
We worried that our tough new district would knock us out of making it to playoffs, but...
we were stunned to find ourselves in the state-semi finals in San Antonio--the best playoff run Memorial has seen since 1979. And our last victory against Cy-Woods was arguably many fan's best sporting event they have ever witnessed. If you had to pick one year to be a Memorial cheerleader, I'd say this season was hard to beat.
And throughout all that...
we made our best friends that are likely to be reciting these stories at our rehearsal dinners when giving our wedding party toasts.
We supported each other both literally and figuratively
as we created frenzies like this all year long
& having the time of our lives doing it.
I'll miss being bitten by the "cheer bug" at every practice, singing the alma mater at pep rallies, celebrating at the field house, driving to Chapelwood, and seeing your faces every day! Much love to every single one of you.