I wanted to be a cheerleader.
I love cheerleaders. As a young girl, I remember hearing my mom’s stories of cheering for Plymouth High School. And while my football-coaching dad roamed the sidelines during games, I sat in the stands, mesmerized by the Ball State cheerleaders as they clapped and flipped and jumped, sparkling with enthusiasm and encouragement.
So I practiced my rah rah rahs, my cartwheels, my jumps, my rhythmic clapping during the summer of my twelfth year. I learned a cheer routine from my friend’s older sister. I tried out in front of a gymnasium of fellow students.
I became a junior high school cheerleader.
With Ronna, Robin, Ellen, Janie, Katy, Ann, and Kim, decked out in our home-sewn shorts, we cheered for our Storer Spartans. I yelled. I encouraged. I supported my team. Win or loss. And I dreamed of being a high school cheerleader.
Then, when a diving accident in the summer of my thirteenth year ended my cartwheel days, I discovered something.
I can still be a cheerleader.
I can say Yes to being a different kind of cheerleader. I can still encourage. I can still support. Just minus the gymnastics.
These days, I am the Official Cheerleader for Midwest Writers Workshop.
Praising, clapping, rooting for, and seeking to empower others in their writing journey.
Personality testing has classified me as an extrovert with traits well suited for cheering: enthusiastic, spontaneous, energetic, and understanding. Those tests indicated that I readily give affirmation and encouragement, that I focus on possibilities and have a contagious enthusiasm for ideas and people and activities. That I’m passionate and love to help other people explore their creative potential, what motivates them, what inspires them, and what they envision achieving in life.
I’ve got SPIRIT! So do you!
In other words, I’m a cheerleader.
Sometimes I feel like Jenny in Forrest Gump, cheering and yelling, “Run, Forrest, run!”
Sometimes I feel like those in the final scene of the sports classic, cheering and chanting, “Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!”
Sometimes I feel like the crowd cheering and shouting, “Rocky, Rocky!”
Always raising the spirits of others, always urging them on.
GO! FIGHT! WIN!
Sometimes it’s with the message: no matter what life throws at them, they should get back up and carry on and that they are responsible for the direction their lives take. If they want something in life, go and get it.
Sometimes it’s a reminder that even an underdog can have his day, and that they can do anything they put their minds to.
Sometimes it’s an understanding for the struggles that hardship bring and the unbridled joy of seeing all their hard work and perseverance pay off.
I take great pleasure in watching writers see their dreams come true. It’s as if their dreams become mine, and my investment in them and cheering for them is real and significant. Their dreams take up residence in my heart. I cheer and do (mental) cartwheels when they succeed, and I feel disappointment for them when roadblocks stand in their way.
This is what I know. Every(one) writers needs encouragement. Every(one) writers needs cheering.
As The Official Cheerleader for the Midwest Writers Workshop, I’m telling you that’s exactly I do.
I’m cheering for you, and encouraging others to cheer for you. And I’m believing in you when you don’t know if you can do it. Plain and simple. I believe you are a winner.
I’m reminding you: I’m proud of you. I’m cheering for you. I’m thankful for you. You can do this thing.
Through all these many years, through all these Midwest Writers Workshops, it has been my great honor to serve a cheerleader for so many on their journey as writers to published authors.
There is nothing quite like savoring a dream come true on behalf of a friend. Nothing like cheering them and watching them cross the finish line—battle weary and out of breath. But doing the thing they love.
GO! FIGHT! WIN!
There is nothing quite like being a cheerleader.