For two years when I was in junior high -- 7th and 8th grades, maybe, or possibly 8th and 9th grades -- I was a cheerleader. There are probably incriminating photos somewhere, but I won't admit to having any in my personal possession. At any rate, when I was cheering, it wasn't a sport like it is now, with all the aerial acrobatics and dance routines and international competitions on ESPN; I was just your garden-variety cheerleader on the sidelines at a Pop Warner game on a Sunday, with the pom-poms and the megaphone and the pleated skirt and the saddle shoes. Boy, could I rock a pair of saddle shoes (and I still do, occasionally, when the spirit moves me).

I wasn't particularly gymnastically inclined: I could do one- and two-handed cartwheels and round offs, back bends, a small variety of basic jumps, and splits in both directions, but my repertoire was decidedly limited compared to what some of the other girls on the squad could do. My primary skill-set included crisp arm moves, excellent spirit fingers, the ability to project my voice without actually shouting due to years of choral training -- and, since I was a swimmer and therefore one of the "studier" girls on the team, I was always, without fail, one of the spotters for any stunts or, more likely, one of the corners of any mounts that we would do for our halftime routines.


My kid, the Flying Wallenda? If she becomes a cheerleader, she's going to be that girl at the top of every pyramid, the one who does double back flips and otherwise spins through the air like a top while she twirls over the 50-yard line, 20 feet in the air, with sparklers in each hand and possibly another one between her teeth.

And it's going to be AWESOME.

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