Tiny Cheerleader Has Caught D-League Fever

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 1, 2012

A week later, the cheers still ring in my head from our trip to a half-pint football game. A peppy cheer coach introduced the chants with a preparatory jingle:
“Hands on your hips.
Smiles on your lips.
Spirit in your heart.
Now let’s start …”
My football allegiance has changed with the coming of fall. I’m now a big fan of the D-League, the 5- and 6-year old football league in Purcellville, Va. Actually, my loyalty is confined to one little 4-year-old cheerleader on the sidelines in a yellow and white uniform.
Perky cheerleader Cayden is a natural. With pompoms in hand, matching shoes and ribbons in her hair, she joined 20 other little girls in an hour of cheers for the football teams.
A week ago we zipped up Interstate 81 to make it in time for the Friday night season opener. That evening and for the entire weekend, we heard the D-League cheers long after the boys had quit playing.
“M.O.V.E. Move that ball.”
I didn’t watch the game, but from the second row of the bleachers, I kept a rapt eye on the second cheerleader from the left.
“That’s my Papa,” she told the coach.
And a very proud one.
Football is alive and well in this community an hour west of Washington, D.C. Cheerleading is also in no danger.
“One, we are the D-League; two, a little bit louder …”
We limped home exhausted from the nonstop litany of cheers. Cayden has memorized about 20 chants and shares them willingly, game or not.
“Who rocks the house? D-League rocks the house …”
When her father played football, I sat on the visitors’ side of the field to not be distracted by the cheerleaders. When her uncle played in the marching band, we often left after the halftime show because the flute section was our main interest. But now I’m a cheerleading Papa, and there is nothing more important than the squad.
“Bust a move; bust a move …”
Some of the chants make little sense, but they have a catchy cadence. I know because they continue to re-echo in my head.
For no reason a few times every day Elizabeth and I now suddenly say aloud, “Goooo D-League!”

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