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.

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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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.

I fell in love with the game in second grade. I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone; it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach: Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off" and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake; I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself; not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, you turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It’s about the players. You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won’t have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time

Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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Till's Return: The Gorilla Is Back

Liverpool's Darren Till Is Ready To Take Out Everyone


The #3 ranked fighter in the welterweight division former title challenger Darren Till has recently expressed that he is ready to get into the octagon multiple times this year as he aims to get that top spot in the division. He has said since UFC 228 with the bout between himself and the current UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley he has essentially reassessed the situation. He is ready to capitalize on the lessons he has learned while showing why he is still the biggest challenger in the 170-pound division.

He has called out all names but he has not hesitated to express his interest in getting that rematch with the champion "The Chosen One" Tyron Woodley because he knows and is confident he has the skill to defeat Tyron. The Gorilla is definitely ready to be the Main Event on the London card in March but there is no clear set opponent yet.

Rumors began to spread in the mix martial arts world that Darren Till would be facing Colby Covington but it was not set in stone. Darren would have much more to win if he took on Colby and dismantled him. He would resolidify himself as the #1 Title challenger as Colby would have a lot more to lose. Colby Covington does not seem to be on the best of terms with the UFC as is so it seems like this would be the most appropriate fight to make since Kamaru Usman vs Tyron Woodley was booked for UFC 235 for the belt.

Darren Till is absolutely ready to get back into action but many would like to see him step into the Middleweight division and show what he can do. He does not want any rest and wants to fight 3 times or more in 2019 as it looks to be a promising year. The Gorilla recently received a call out for the London card by #9 ranked welterweight Jorge Masvidal as they both share the same amount of interest in the past but the fight was never booked.

Another huge fight he has interest in is with the "Style Bender" from the middleweight division, top prospect Israel Adesanya which would be absolute madness and would be a huge sell for the business. But in the meantime, he does believe he will stay at welterweight even though the division is in a very weird place right now. He expressed his dislike for Colby but knows the game Colby Covington is trying to play. A fight between Darren Till and the (Former?) Interim Title holder Colby Covington would definitely put a clear understanding to who the next title challenger could be in the division for Tyron Woodley.

The 26-year-old has 17 wins and 1 loss with 1 draw in his mix martial arts career. The last time we saw the #3 ranked "Gorilla" Darren Till was when he took on Tyron Woodley who become the first person to finish and stop Darren giving him his first loss at UFC 228. It is very exciting to see Darren so hungry and eager to get back in the cage. Hopefully, it will be in the Main Event in London.

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