Dear Cheerleading,

February 14, 2012  |  Field Notes, Life Beyond Cheer

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I love giving and receiving tokens of affection as much as the next girl on this holiday, but this year I wanted to dig deeper and connect with the people and things I truly love.  So, I took the time to write letters to my husband and each of my sons, listing all the things I love about them – the little things, the big things, the quirky things, the things that I appreciate each and every day.

In this same spirit, I decided to write a letter to ‘Cheerleading’, because, well, I love it and it has shaped my life in so many ways.

Dear Cheerleading,

It’s hard for me to put into words exactly the way I feel you’ve impacted my life over the last 25 years. When I was a little girl, you excited me each and every Friday night in the fall as I would sit in the stands at football games, dressed in a cheerleading uniform that matched the cheerleaders on the field. Those nights were magical! I’d wave my poms in the air and yell the cheers with them. I looked up to those girls as they smiled and their eyes sparkled. Who wouldn’t want to lead an entire stadium full of people to cheer for their hometown team?

I have old photographs that document that period of my life – pictures of me and my dad (a football coach) on the sidelines after football games. I’m in my cheerleading uniform and filled with absolute joy to have cheered for my dad and his team. You helped create memories that will last a lifetime.

When I was on the cheerleading team in high school, you taught me the values of teamwork, perseverance and dedication. You put me in positions to be elated with each win and disappointed with each loss I witnessed from our athletic teams. And through that, you taught me how to win and lose with grace and dignity. You taught me to never give up and that giving your all would often lead to victory, and if it didn’t, knowing that you had done all you could was never shameful, but merely a building block to prepare for the future.

You taught me to work as hard as I could, and then work a little harder. You taught me to never give up on my team or myself. You taught me that cheering for others, on and off the field, is good for the soul.

What was so incredible is that not only was I part of my own team, but together we cheered for the whole school, the entire community, and the values that we collectively cherished.

I have you to thank for my foundation. And I have you to thank for my life today. To work in the cheerleading world is really a dream come true and the principles you helped instill have paved my way in life.  I enjoy each win in life, because I’ve known the sting of defeat, and I embrace each day with optimism because, with your help, I learned that there is nothing I can’t overcome. You taught me well, and I am a champion for your cause…always.

With love and respect,

Jenni Parrish

  • Nicole Lauchaire

    Well said, Jenni! I love cheerleading too! Happy Valentine’s Day!