I’m a cheerlouder – not a cheerleader, I could never be a cheerleader. I just don’t have the pep and coordination for that kind of thing (it’s ok, I can say that – some of my best friends are cheerleaders). But I am definitely a cheerlouder, in that I cheer loudly. Like, very loudly.
I wasn’t always a cheerlouder. When I was young, I was a quiet mumbler. Every time my parents handed me the phone to speak to one of my grandparents or other friend or relative we used to phone (way before the days of facebook), they’d say, “Speak up. Be loud.” And now everybody I meet is like, “Woah! Tone it down!” Can’t be done. My childhood training is so ingrained that I can’t undo the wiring now.
I was probably my cheerloudest in college. Notre Dame games in the fall of 1993 – yeah, those were some loud games. Sometimes I’d get dirty looks. Usually from people in front of me who didn’t plan ahead and bring earplugs. Sorry, dudes, you’re just going to have to cover your ears, because I cannot cheer quietly.
Nor can I stop cheering altogether. When it comes to live sports, I’m a cheerconstantly-er. I can’t help it. I can’t NOT cheer. It just doesn’t work. Live sports is my outlet; all the stress and emotions I’ve tried to keep bottled up for however long to that point just come pouring out. It’s why I sometimes cry when Notre Dame loses (not anymore, obviously, they’ve done it enough now that I can cope) and why I lose my mind with excitement or frustration during some games. It’s not because the outcome of the game is going to have any real, lasting impact on my life, but because I don’t get to cry when I’m upset at work. I can’t swear at my boss for making bad judgement calls. And, really, it would be a little weird if we all stood up and cheered whenever a project was completed (though I’d totally be on board with that). Not to say that people at work don’t know exactly how I feel, because my body language always delivers the message, but I can’t be LOUD about it. That gets all saved up for the rink or field or whatever.
Except now I don’t get to go to college games, and lately not even professional games. So all my loudness happens at youth games. Oh yes, I am that parent. Go ahead, roll your eyes. Judge. I know, when you’re not on my team, you hate me. I’m cool with it. But here’s the thing. As a cheerlouder, I have certain rules.
Rule #1 – I don’t cheerloud if we’re killing the other team, unless a non-scorer ends up scoring. It’s been a while since I’ve been in this position, but I’m not going to be obnoxiously celebrating every goal if our team is clearly dominating the game. The only exception is that if a kid who doesn’t usually get a chance puts one in the net, then yes, I will cheerloud for that kid. They’re still my kids (the whole team).
Rule #2 – I try very hard not to cheerloud anything negative. When I cheerloud, I’m usually cheering for the girls and boys on my team. I try never to say anything bad about the other team. Sometimes I’ll cheerloud things like, “Hey! Quit being so pushy!” or “Watch your stick, buddy!” Sometimes, when I get really, really frustrated, I’ll cheerloud things like, “Go ahead and trip him – the refs don’t care!” But I only did that once (probably). And usually when I get that frustrated, I just grumble (medium-loud) all the things I think about the game. I know I shouldn’t, but it happens sometimes.
Rule #3 – I cheerloud for everybody. Like I said, I cheerloud constantly, so I cheerloud for all the kids on our teams. I know all their names, and I use them as much as possible. Mostly it’s things like, “Go get the puck, Jake!” or “Skate, Will!” or “Go get her, Sophie!” or “Go, go, go, Kate!” or “Keep it up, boys/girls – you got this!” or “Go Elks!” or “Shoot it!” or “SHOOT IT!!” And I even cheerloud for the other team (because they’re all just kids doing their best) but that’s almost always just, “Good save, goalie.”
So yes, I’m loud and I make no apologies. All of my kids (the whole team) deserve to hear their names cheered from the stands, and I’ve got just the set of pipes to make it happen. Maybe someday I’ll get to cheerloud at the Olympics and you can see on TV just how loud I can be. Probably not though, you’ll just either have to take my word for it, or listen for me in the stands in Minnesota. I promise, if I’m there, you’ll hear me.