I wrote this post for The Kentucky Girls blog last year, after a particularly ugly loss to Florida. It seems apropos for Wildcat football fans this season as well. Go 'Cats. -- HCW
|We smiled, but we weren't cheering for a winning team.|
If I ever have a kid, I'm going to insist that she become both a cheerleader
and a sorority girl. Now, I'm fully aware that I've just articulated the most
ridiculous, outdated Southern cliché that one can imagine. The thing is, I'm not
claiming that my hypothetical future daughter's most important life goals should
be back handsprings or paint-pen crafts. But, I certainly believe that this
tried-and-true path to Southern womanhood taught me a few important lessons.
Lessons that extended to my professional and social well-being. Lessons that, if
you'll kindly indulge me a few moments' explanation,could most assuredly be
passed along to the Big Blue Nation right about now.
- Keep smiling. My tiny Eastern Kentucky high school wasn't
exactly known for its football program. In fact, my sophomore year was the first
winning season in the football team's history. But, no matter how mediocre our
game, my job as a cheerleader was to smile. And provide encouragement. Because I
loved our team. You keep smiling. You work out your differences in private.
And you strengthen your organization without presenting outward displays of
strife for the entire world. As fans, we need to keep smiling-- we need to
support the players we have and support the organization we love while
acknowledging that there's plenty of room for improvement.
- Remember that you're here because you want to be. Whenever I got
discouraged about any aspect of cheering or sorority life, my mama was always
quick to remind me that I chose to be there. In fact, I was spending plenty of
money for the privilege to be there. We're Kentucky fans. We always have
been. We're paying for the privilege of football tickets. We'll pay for the
privilege of tickets to what promises to be an incredible basketball season.
Because we want to wear Kentucky Blue.
- You don't always like everyone. Get over it. I spent four years as a
part of a hundred-or-so-member sorority. I'd spent the previous decade on
ten-to-fifteen member cheerleading squads. (For that matter, I've sat on more
Junior League committees than I can begin to count...) There were enough
in-fights, infidelities and intrigues to provide the CW with a year's worth of
new material. Of course I didn't like all the girls involved. Some, I outright
loathed. But I learned to keep it to myself, because the greater good of the
group was more important. Maybe you don't like Joker's style of coaching. Maybe
you think that your quarterback should put in more than two or three stellar
minutes of play. While there are certainly adjustments to be made, at some
point, we need to realize that this is the lineup we have for the year.
|Sorority Bid Day.|
- Maybe it was better in the past. That's kind of immaterial to the
present. Some years, my cheer squad found ourselves undermanned and
rudderless after a talented group of seniors graduated. Sometimes, my sorority
suffered a lackluster rush and subsequently recruited a small pledge class.
Sometimes, the football team for whom I was cheering did not replicate the
storied First Winning Season that we enjoyed in 1991. These things happen. We
miss Randall a whole lot right now. Hartline -- 'stache or no-- sure does sound
good. They aren't coming back.
These lessons from the land of hairbows and ribbon belts served me well as I
entered the real world. They taught me to accept situations that I wish were
otherwise. They taught me to adjust my attitude toward crappy situations. And,
well, they're lessons that a whole lot of Wildcats fans would be well-advised to
learn this year.
Every early indicator tells us that this is going to be an ugly, ugly
football season. We've logged two back-to-back losses that have left many of us
wondering whether any of the remaining 8 games can be won. It's an exhausting,
frustrating thing to be a Kentucky football fan right now-- all we can do, it
seems, is count the days until Keeneland and basketball. But, the thing is, we
don't stop being Kentucky fans when the team sucks. No matter how disgusting
Saturday's game was, I doubt any of you burned your Wildcat gear and started
making that Gator-chomp thing. (If you did, then this blog probably isn't for
you...) If the next few games play out as badly as I fear (it's gonna take a lot
of bourbon to get through the LSU game...), then we need to keep smiling,
sorority girl-style, and maintain a little grace and decorum until the
post-season. It just seems the proper thing to do...