I'm A Cheerleader, And I've Never Been To A Football Game

I'm A Cheerleader, And I've Never Been To A Football Game

We're always curious as to what it's like to be a spectator.
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I started cheerleading in the 8th grade – if you’ve read any of my previous articles, you might have come across the fact that I grew up a gymnast, but retired after high school and became a collegiate cheerleader for the University of Pittsburgh. Starting at that young of an age, I never really got to experience the thrill of being in the stands of a student section of a football game.

I grew up a Steelers fan. Both of my parents were born and raised in Pittsburgh, and as a family, we bleed black and gold for the Steelers. Now that I’m in college, we breathe blue and gold for Pitt. Basically, we live for everything Pittsburgh.

I’ve recently started cheerleading my 8th season of football games. Every year since I was 13, I’ve cheered my school’s football team to victory and stood by them through loss. I’m now 20 years old, and I have yet to attend a football game as a spectator. During my senior year of high school, my friends would be in the front row of the “Hawk’s Nest” (what we called our student section) and they would always call out my name and cheer for me. Now that I’m in college, some of my friends are able to make it all the way down to the front rows of the “Panther Pit” to wave to me and call out my name. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to get down to the front row and call out one of my friends’ names, but I think it’s pretty remarkable that people do it for me.

I find it interesting when my friends ask me if I’ve ever been to a game, because their faces when I tell them “no” is so dumbfounded. And by now, I can hear some of you thinking but you have been to a game, you’re on the sidelines every game. What’s different for me is that yes, I do get to watch the game, but I have never gotten to sit down and enjoy a game of football. But don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade being a college cheerleader for the world.

In the beginning, maybe around 8 or 9 o’clock, while we cheerleaders are warming up our tumbling and stunts, most students are just waking up and painting their faces for kickoff at noon. At about 10 o’clock, we as cheerleaders head out to the tailgates to get our fans excited. We meet alumni, maybe run into our parents, and get as many people hyped up for the game by encouraging them to do cheers with us as we walk through their parked cars and tables of food. By this point, the students are at a different parking lot, drinking and partying before making their way to their seats for kickoff. Just before kickoff, the student section is about as full as it gets, disregarding the few stragglers that wanted a snack before the game began. At this point, I’m down on the field, next to Roc the Panther, my best friends and teammates, in front of a camera and tens of thousands of people, cheering and waiting for the team to arrive. We dance and do stunts to “Hail to Pitt” and the “Victory Song” and then sprint to make a tunnel for the football players to run out through. I get more exercise in one game that most students have to go to the gym three times to get. But still, I’ve never been to a game.

At the University of Pittsburgh, we have so many football traditions that we participate in at the games. After a touchdown, if the field goal is good, students throw each other up and down seven times while clapping out “Hail to Pitt.” I wonder what it’s like to be thrown at a game. They say curiosity kills the cat, but curiosity won’t be killing this Panther. Nothing compares to being able to say I cheered on Heinz Field.

Cover Image Credit: Jeffrey Gamza Photography

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12 Things Texans Hate About Oklahoma

We all know Texas is the superior state, but just why do we Texans hate Oklahoma so much?
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So, everyone on the planet knows that Texas is indisputably THE BEST state in this glorious country and because of this, we Texans deem every other state inferior. It also may seem that we have a 'rivalry' with Oklahoma (although, it's no contest which state is superior). However, this rivalry is actually more of a disdain and for many good reasons. That being said, here's a list of 12 credible, bona-fide reasons that Texans hate the state of Oklahoma.

1. The Constant Wind

Everyone has heard that the wind is constantly blowing in Oklahoma, but you don’t realize how annoying that is until you live here. You think you walk outside looking good, but the wind is like, “Haha, not today.” Also, it’s not the kind of cool breeze that’s refreshing on a hot day; if it’s cold outside, the wind is freezing cold, if it’s hot outside, the wind is a gust of hot, humid air.

2. No Buc-ee’s

If you haven’t heard of the amazing-ness that is Buc-ee’s, then you are missing out. Buc-ee’s is the most awesome gas station. They have everything, and by that, I mean everything. They even have Comfort Colors tanks with the Buc-ee’s logos, as well as the cleanest gas station bathrooms you’ll find anywhere. Unfortunately, unless you’ve ever driven to south Texas, you’ve possibly never heard of Buc-ee’s, which is a real shame.

3. Narrow Lanes

First off, the roads in Oklahoma are absolutely atrocious. The first grievance on this list is that the lanes are just too small. You think I’m going to be able to fit my dually truck and horse trailer in between these lines? Yeah, I don’t think so, that Prius barely fits.

4. Slow Speed Limits

On the subject of roads, the highways here have an average speed limit of 55. You have to get on a toll road to even have a speed limit of 75. That would not fly in Texas. How do you expect to get anywhere quickly if you have to go 55 mph? That’s child’s play. Texas boasts the highest speed limit in the United States, something we utilize to its full potential.

5. No HEB

HEB, aka the BEST grocery store on the planet, probably in the universe, but I cannot confirm, only has stores in Texas. And even then, the northernmost store is all the way in Burleson. I mean, you can buy Whataburger’s fancy ketchup by the bottle; what more can you ask for?

6. OU

The Red River rivalry is a well-known rivalry between OU (University of Oklahoma- Sooners) and UT (University of Texas- Longhorns). Admittedly, there is a lot of division between Texans on this issue, but if you’re a diehard Texan, then chances are you hate OU simply on principle.

7. Majorly Lacking Major League Sports Teams

As a Texan, we’re used to having our pick of major league sports teams, whether it be football, basketball, or baseball, and trash talking other Texans that root for the rival team is half the fun. All Oklahomans have are the OKC Thunder, and I guess hockey, but who really follows that any way? It’s America, football is king here and baseball is the national pastime.

8. Eternal Road Construction

Road construction is a necessary evil; it’s always going on. However, at least in Texas, you see actual progress. In Oklahoma, roads are cut down to one lane for months on end with no visible progress to be seen.

9. Increased Sales Tax

According to taxfoundation.org, the combined state and average local sales tax rate for 2015 is 8.77% in Oklahoma compared to 8.05 %. This seems like something really petty to add on to this list, but hey, I don’t want the government any more money than it has to. Also, when you start being an actual adult, Texas is one of seven states that does not charge state income tax.

10. No Coastline

Oklahoma is landlocked. For a Texan, whose home state boasts 367 miles of coastline (the 6th highest in the United States), this is stifling.

11. Mite Infestations

Apparently, this past summer and fall, there was an outbreak of mites that like to bite people. They were worse than mosquito bites and quite frankly, a pain in the butt to deal with. If you walked across any patch of grass, chances were you woke up with an itchy, red sore from this microscopic

12. It’s Just Not Texas

Any Texan can tell you, as we are know for our rather fanatic state pride, that there’s just something about Texas that feels like home. And no matter how many great things a city has to be proud of, nothing will ever replace Texas. Everything’s better in Texas and there’s no denying it.

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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Remembering The Legacy Of My Childhood Hero This Steve Irwin Day

November 15 marks the day internationally commemorating my inspirational childhood hero, Steve Irwin.

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The impact that Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, has had on my life and this world carries to this day. His dedication not only to the conservation and protection of wildlife and diverse ecosystems, but also to the education of people like myself, marks his contribution to the world's ecological knowledge. Steve once said, "I believe that education is all about being excited about something. Seeing passion and enthusiasm helps push an educational message."

His legacy is clear when his own children, Bindi Sue and Robert Clarence Irwin, and his partner and wife, Terri Irwin, carry forward his memories every day. Through their continued work with wildlife conservation and education, the Irwin family has maintained Steve's love for the promotion of environmentalism through building passion.

I was sitting next to my parents while we watched the news anchor report the death of my most dear hero in the September of 2006. He had passed away after being pierced in the heart by a stingray that he was filming.

I had just begun the fifth grade and had tunnel-vision regarding my future. Because of my own love for animals and ecology, fueled and ignited by Steve, I was determined to become a veterinarian. The Crocodile Hunter was, at that point, a religious experience for me, at least in the consistency with which I watched each episode. My parents saw changes in the contents of my bookshelves as most of my collection became about animals. I had developed a life's passion at the age of 10 because of Steve Irwin and what he brought out of me.

It physically hurt to know that he had passed away. My parents remembered that I was disturbed for quite a few days afterwards, even after I had cried that day. The key piece, the inspiration behind my dream, was gone. There were memorials internationally for him, especially in the Australia Zoo which the Irwin family owns. Even though I still was determined to work in a way that helped animals, I didn't know how to move on. What I finally came around to understanding, with the help of my parents, my teacher, and Animal Planet, was that Steve Irwin lived and died doing his life's work -- educating the world about the world's creatures. He had even foreshadowed his own determination -- "I have no fear of losing my life - if I have to save a koala or a crocodile or a kangaroo or a snake, mate, I will save it."

It was this realization that inspired me to write a poem dedicated to Steve Irwin that I titled The Zoo. I worked hard on my beat and did research on different animals before I decided on the perfect words that expressed what I was feeling.

Jui Sarwate

This Steve Irwin Day I remember one of my most prominent educators who served as a role model for me long after his own life. He taught me to learn passionately and always live loving what I do. After he passed on, he taught me to process grief and mourn, and then channel my own passions towards creating something that I still treasure to this day.

Thank you, Steve.

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