When I was in the eighth grade, I went to my high school’s cheerleading tryout. I had cheered for three years in grade school but I wasn’t completely sure if I had the talent to make a high school squad. That didn’t stop me from trying.
Three days of clinics, bruised knees and a lot of tears later, I found out that I made the junior varsity football cheerleading squad for the 2009-2010 school year. Despite the fact that my first choice was the basketball cheerleading squad, I was elated that I made any squad. Four years later, I collected a two-year varsity letter along with some great memories.
Now I will be the first to tell you that the cheerleader stereotypes are (mostly) true: dumb, blonde, tan, skinny, good taste in clothes, tons of makeup, etc. You all know what I’m talking about.
However, I cheered at a private high school run by Franciscans so my squad defied a lot of those stereotypes. We were smart, brunette and girls of all sizes. On top of that, I wasn’t tan. I never wore makeup. You could never get me out of my sweatpants. I am also a proud, practicing Catholic, which defies almost all of the cheerleading stereotypes in one fell swoop.
Of course, there were some moments that I wish I wouldn’t remember. I was a cheerleader after all, and I fell victim to peer pressure from my squad more often than not. But that’s beside the point …
Unlike my squad, I actually knew and cared about the football games that were happening in front of my very eyes, especially when my brother was one of the players on the field. I would stop my squad from doing an offense cheer when our team was about to punt the ball away. I would make sure we took a knee when a player was hurt. Everyone counted on me to make sure that we wouldn’t look stupid.
So how in the world did I get from high school cheerleader to Franciscan’s head sports writer? Pretty simple actually.
I knew football because I grew up watching College Gameday every Saturday morning and Ohio State University football every Saturday afternoon. Then my brother started to play football so I watched and loved the sport even more. It was only natural that I began to cheer for a sport that I so enjoyed.
When I got to Franciscan as a freshman, I kept to myself. My dad encouraged me to check out a rugby game, a volleyball game, a soccer game, basically any kind of game to get me out of my dorm room. I went to one volleyball game and one basketball game that entire school year.
I also didn’t write for The Troubadour my freshman year, a decision I regret since I wasn’t working on my journalistic craft from the very beginning of my college career.
Sophomore year, I decided to attend the first Troubadour meeting of the semester and took one story assignment: a story about the volleyball team’s home opener. I felt comfortable taking that story as my first ever newspaper assignment since I knew the sport of volleyball and loved sports in general.
I took that one clip to my future boss and was hired as a sports writer for the athletic department one week later. The rest is history.