We Are Cheerleaders

Photo by Nicholas Green on Unsplash

I recently attended what turned out to be my niece’s last volleyball game of the year—the season-ending tournament cut from the schedule due to an unusual and unwelcome October blizzard. Generally, at most games, the parents and other family members sitting in the stands cheer for their kids, offering brief applause and short bursts of vocal encouragement after a point scored or an especially good serve or volley. But sometimes there’s a parent or two whose encouragement leans a little to the side of persistence and like the Energizer bunny it keeps going and going throughout the entire game.

I happened to be seated near one such parent at this particular match. Her shouts, instructing the girls to side-out and help each other were perpetual, and from my nonathletic perspective (What does side-out even mean?), completely unnecessary. The girls had been practicing together for weeks and were, I would guess, fully aware of what playing a successful game entailed. I also assumed that any needed prompts about what to do and when to do it would come from the coach who was conveniently seated on the sidelines and within earshot of the girls on the court.

This is the same opinion I held many years ago when attending my stepdaughters’ sporting events. I learned the other parents’ mannerisms, choosing my seat carefully to avoid the vicinity of the bleacher-coaches. Did these people think they knew better? Did they believe their kids and the coaches didn’t know what they were doing?

But a couple weeks ago, as I sat listening to this woman’s directive cries, I started wondering if I’d gotten it all wrong. Maybe it wasn’t a matter of overbearingness or control or assumptions that the kids and coaches needed her help. Maybe her vocalizations were simply meant as reassurance to her daughter. Little reminders of her presence that said, “Hey, I’m here for you, and I’m rooting for you.”

And maybe that’s the same reason God put us all together on this beautiful planet. Not so we could direct and instruct and boss each other around because we claim to know better. But rather to cheer for each other. To lift and encourage each other. To offer those subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) reminders of our presence and our support.

So, my friends, let me assure you today that whatever you’re going through, whatever you’re seeking, whatever you’re working to achieve—regardless of whether I’ve been there or whether I even know you personally—I am in your corner. I am here for you, and I am rooting for you.

Pass it on.

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