Welcome back to week 7 of my fall blog series FTSL (From the Sidelines), where I’m sharing lessons and inspirations discovered along the sidelines of my boys’ fall sports. Because, truly, life’s lessons can be found both on and off the field for people of all ages.
This week’s lesson? Be somebody’s cheerleader.
And no, pompoms aren’t required. Neither are short skirts or skin tight tops, thank the good Lord. Just clapping, cheering, and encouraging. And if the situation allows, the louder the better.
Now, that I can do.
See, I’ve got a big mouth. Yep, I’m sure you’re shocked to hear that. (Unless you know me personally—in that case, you’re probably nodding in agreement.) When I’m an observer of anything from sports, to marching band contests, to music concerts, I’m not one to sit by and clap politely. Nope, I’m whooping and hollering and cheering and screaming.
Why? It’s simple: everyone deserves to feel special. And does cheering do that?
Heck yeah, it does.
I was shivering standing along the flag football sidelines this weekend, and watched as the only girl on my youngest’s team took a handoff and started running up the near sideline with the ball. The look in her eyes was a mixture of fear and insecurity. On a field dominated by noisy, rowdy boys, I can’t say I’d be feeling any differently if I were in her shoes. So as she raced by, we started cheering, urging her on, to not look back. Her stride lengthened, her eyes focused downfield and she ran with all she had. And then…someone pulled her flag.
I watched her reaction closely, the mom in me worrying how she would feel after being denied a touchdown, and a medley of emotions danced across her face: disappointment, frustration, eagerness.
Yes! She looked over at the sideline, gave a little hop, and then hurried back to the line of scrimmage. That young gal was eager to get another shot at a touchdown, to try, try again. Coming up short of the end zone wasn’t a failure, it was a stepping stone. That’s why there are four chances to get a first down in American football, not one.
Try, try again.
As spectators, we had no direct way of helping her reach the end zone. We couldn’t do a perfect fake of the handoff, couldn’t throw her the perfect spiral, couldn’t block the defenders from reaching her flag. But we could root for her, support her decisions, and maybe even offer some encouraging suggestions from our sideline views.
We could be her cheerleaders.
Everyone faces challenges, often on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, even those around us that we look up to, that we admire, that we idolize. And while their struggles aren’t always easy to spot, they’re there. Sometimes, these challenges take a greater toll on some people than others, and what they need more than anything else is someone to come alongside them and cheer them on. Words aren’t always needed, nor are whoops and hollering. Sometimes, a gentle hug, a pat on the back, even a simple “hey, nice job” is enough.
So take some time this week to look around. Who among you looks like they could use a cheerleader, someone to encourage them, to support them, to be there for them? Go ahead, be their cheerleader. Pay it forward. Perhaps someday, when you need your own cheerleader, they will remember how much you helped them, and in turn be the support you need.
Have a great week, everyone.