Reverb 14 | (belated) September | Team

#reverb14 is the opportunity for us to reflect and project throughout 2014.   Each month, Meredith, Sarah and I will be posting on a new prompt.  Join us by writing, or join us by reading. No matter what you choose, come with us.

Team: Whether you love football or hate it, we’ve all done hard time on the sidelines or on the field.  What is your best game time memory?

I have spent hours on the sidelines.  In high school, I was on the varsity cheerleading squad for four years.  Football, boys and girls basketball, and a smattering of soccer games, I have watched it all for hours upon end.

Senior year, I was captain of the varsity football squad and I could not have been prouder.  Billy was on the sophomore football team and they were allowed to dress for the varsity games.  We went to the state championship.  It truly was a golden age of sorts.  And with the squad, there was so much time spent agonizing over what stunts to throw up, whether it was offense or defense, if we should put on our windbreakers or not.  I like to think that the afternoon of puff painting names onto our squad’s hair ribbons was the skill that would bridge my co-captain Lorna and I into the more advanced realm of sorority big/little gifts in college.

But I also played the bassoon in our high school’s Wind Ensemble.  And yes this piece of information matters in our sideline story, because a requirement of all sophomores in band was one year of marching band participation.  Instead of making it an after-school extra curricular, it simply was a class.  End of story.  So at the end of freshman year, my parents, my cheerleading coaches and I puzzled over the impossibility of me being on the cheerleading squad and in the marching band.   There was no leniency from the band teacher, Our Own Musical Napoleon, who hated to be wrong and had to be right.  This was apparently my problem as a 15-year-old to solve.  Which is to say nothing of the fact that the boys who were on the football team and in the marching band were not forced to solve this problem.  Or the fact that the bassoon was not a marching instrument and I would have to be part of something called the drumline which added a whole different layer of confusion.

But back to real life problems, like, how I could possibly be on the cheerleading squad and in the marching band playing a set of instruments I didn’t even know how to play.  I dutifully attended a week of drumline camp at the beginning of the summer after school had been released and another week of drumline camp + another separate week of marching band camp in the summer for three summers, because if you know nothing else about me, it is that I Am Not A Quitter Of Things.

There were days in August where I would go from drumline camp to cheerleading practice and then back again or from cheerleading practice to marching band practice and then finally home and all of it was exhausting but I did not quit.  I have some hazy memories of begging friends to bring me Taco Bell on their way to and from one practice or another and still others of me living off of pretzels and diet coke and Gatorade from the vending machine, but whatever.  It was high school and I felt alive.

When the school year finally started, I would show up to class early each day to sort out what instruments I would be playing in the pit percussion group.  Was it sort of menial to spend 85 minutes a day tinging a triangle or clapping two pieces of wood together or tipping a rain stick?  Yes.  Was it ponderously boring to sit on the sidelines for entire class periods as the group practiced the pre-game field show?  Yes.  But I was with my friends.  And so I was happy.

But of course, this story is supposed to be about the sideline and instead of telling you about that, I have been telling you about all of the things leading up to Game Day.  How this worked practically was very simple: I would cheer with the squad until halftime, at which point I would throw down my pom poms to go play the halftime show with the pit percussionists.  With my cheerleading uniform on and my hair tied up in a ponytail with a bow, I would ting the triangle and tip the rainstick and clap those two bits of wood together.  It was absolutely a futile act because there was zero chance the crowd would ever hear those things above the blasting of the trumpets or the beating of the drums, but I was showing up and that was what counted.

Or, for a more objective perspective of how all of this looked, my mother declared that when I did the bit where I clapped the two boards together, she could hear her father laughing from heaven.  She was not wrong.  I wish I could say that this is one of those moments in life where I learned to be flexible.   Where I learned how to create balance.  But that would be an outright lie.  When your opponent is someone who is focused on making your life more difficult, and on forcing you to choose between two things you love, you learn how to be more stubborn than they are.


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