Cheerleaders Put On Their Big Girl Panties and Man Up
Most people in town aren’t old enough to remember the last time the Chrislip High football team had a winning season. And those who are probably don’t remember because it had nothing to do with beer.
Traditionally, the Chrislip High Poets have played about as well as their namesakes: poets. And while the long history of failure has been tough for both players and fans, the team’s cheerleaders may be the ones it’s been most achingly hard on.
Angela Bergen rooted in the 1970s. She remembers when the Poets began their long slide toward – and past – mediocrity. “It happened during the Carter administration. At first we thought the boys were just spending too much time in Chrislip’s boogie palaces, but the years passed, and lo and behold, we didn’t get any better.”
For a long time, the Chrislip cheerleaders kept up the same types of cheers common in every squad’s repertoire. After a while, though, all that rah-rah-ing seemed to take on a mocking tone. “When the Chrislip Poets are playing,” says current head cheerleader Babette Musger, “and you yell ‘Let’s win, boys!’, or ‘Let’s score a touchdown!’, it just comes out sounding sarcastic.”
Over the losing years, the cheers took on a different tone. Often they proclaimed mundane facts:
“Chrislip Poets, that’s our name!
There’s 8:05 left in the game!”
Other cheers were genuinely aimed at helping the team:
“Referee, don’t be cruel,
Please invoke the mercy rule!”
Still others were meaningless, yet somehow strangely inspirational:
“Two bits, four bits,
six bits, a dollar,
eight bits, ten bits,
twelve bits, TWO DOLLARS!”
The cheer squad also used their skills as a form of public service; a kind of social grapevine to spread the latest in school news:
“Every tongue in school is buzzin’!
Jamie did it with her cousin!”
Now, the Chrislip Poets stand at the door of respectability, if not actual success. As we reported earlier, all-state running back Marcellus Harper is slated to join the team next fall (See “Natural Gas Explosion Aids Football Team”). The addition of such talent can only mean that the fortunes of all the Poets will turn.
This will be a big adjustment for the cheerleaders. They will have to learn normal cheers, just like real girls at real high schools.
One middle-aged fan of the cheerleading team – who shows up for all their practices and asks that he not be identified – puts it this way: “The girls have to be in lockstep with the football team. If the players are successful, so must they be. Sometimes girls at this age believe that the crowds are looking at them only to admire their figures. They are mistaken. The fans wants to hear capable and inspirational cheering. They do not come to look at the girls, who merely flirt at womanhood as they cheer, their coltish limbs and voices paying artless homage to the season. These are naught but girlchildren at play; little Degas ballerinas in the halflight of autumn’s e’en.”
He then excused himself to go to the market to buy red licorice and Ho-Ho’s for the team.