Imagine...the quarterback drops back into the pocket...he looks left...nothing. Then he looks right...he spots one of his trusted receivers slipping behind the secondary. He draws the ball back...ready to spring. As the camera zooms in tight, we see a big flashy smile. Reality? Of course not...he's focused...eyes fixed on his intended target...this is no time to be smiling.
As the athletes on the field maintain their disciplined composure...thier "game face" is stalwart...composed...focused. In contrast, the game face of the athletes on the sideline includes a perpetual smile during every one of their "plays"...during pressure situations, through the toughest of elements and even when the score looks hopeless. These are the cheerleaders. While we wouldn't expect football players to be smiling as a part of their athletic routine...it's a major element of the cheer team's game.
With championship titles, scholarships and prestige on the line, it is no secret that cheerleading is no longer strictly about rhythmic chants, but is heavily swayed towards athleticism. And throughout every routine, no matter if it's 40 degrees and raining or the team is performing a routine with a high degree of difficulty, the smile is present. It's required...it's expected...it's a trademark.
During the OSAA State Football Playoffs and Championships, a wide variety of cheer teams supported their teams. Mohawk High, from the small Western Oregon town of Marcola had three cheer team members...while 4A Lincoln High School of Portland sported a squad of about 20. No matter what the size of the squad or the level of skill, the common denominator is an ever-present smile...through every routine...without regard of the elements.
Of course, the smiles often give way to tears when a playoff loss shatters the dream of a championship. But it's only a brief interruption, as pride of an accomplished season soon has the team thinking about getting ready for the next season to follow.