The Football Game of a Cheerleader

The Friday Night Lights Football Game told from the perspective of a cheerleader

September 23, 2019


Bethany Bowers

I’m posing with Emily Brown, a cheerleader at Foothill High School.

The morning of Sept. 6, I am instantly hit with a rush of excitement as I hop out of bed. As I am walking into school later that morning, my ears are filled with the sound of students talking about the big rival game against Foothill High School that night at 7 p.m. This year, the Beckman football team is the home team, so everyone is hoping that we would take down the Foothill Knights. As for cheer, we have prepared a special unity cheerleading routine with the Foothill cheer team that we will be performing at halftime. 


Game days seem to make school pass by in a blur, and the next thing I know, I am sitting in the back of the bus on our way to Tustin High School. The smell of hairspray, burnt hair and lip stains float through the air as everyone is anxiously making sure they look ready for game day. 


Our look for the evening: curled hair, white bow, white turtleneck (for the white out game), our new red sideline uniforms, smokey eyes, red lipstick, and star stickers on our right cheek. Every item on our body ‒ from the little silver stars on our right cheek down to our Beckman cheerleading shoes ‒ magnifies our school spirit as we walk to the sideline of the stadium.


As I walk closer to the home side of the stadium, I feel energy bursting throughout my entire body. Across the field, I spot the vibrancy of Foothills uniforms as they are practicing their routines. Finally we get to our side, and we all unload the heavy wooden boxes off of our shoulders, placing all of our props in place and our poms on the top of our boxes. 


We meet in the middle of the 50 yard line with Foothill Cheer. Looking at each other and batting our fake eyelashes, we all know that this is our chance to show both of our schools that cheer is not just about encouraging the football team. The strength, endurance, pain, attitude and pride that goes into cheerleading motivates us to constantly do our best whenever we have the opportunity to showcase our talents.


Beckman cheerleading coach, Jason Vaca, plays our routine music three times on repeat. We mark the routine, do a stunt through, then run our last full out before showtime at half time. The music ends after our last full out, and we all look at each other with excitement in our eyes. The spark lit between both teams shows our readiness to showcase our unity routine that we have been practicing for the last week. I know we are ready for our performance.


As the time nears 7 p.m., everytime I glance to the stands, they become more crowded with Patriots wearing white to support the game. In the meantime, the football players from both teams goes back to the locker room twelve minutes before game time, and I had just finished my entire stunt warm-up with my stunt group.


In the bleachers, the tension is clearly evident, but at the same time, there is also a family-like culture between Foothill and Beckman. People are intermingling between sides, and friends are reuniting. The energy from the crowd is electric through my veins, motivating me to be even peppier for Beckman. I know the girls on my cheer squad feel the same way. Junior Morgan Powell, whose box is next to mine, looks at the crowd and comments, “Wow, this game is going to be crazy! I can feel the good vibes!” 


Now, the game begins with the football players running through the posters we made for them. I am holding up sophomore Elyssa Cheng in a stunt above my head as she grips the posters. Behind the poster, the football team hype each other up, yelling at each other, jumping around, hitting each other’s helmets and encouraging one another with pep talks. Hearing the energy of the football team amplifies my excitement even more now. 


The football players run through the poster and out onto the field. We follow behind them, and junior Camryn Harris starts calling out cheers on the microphone. The whistle blows for the kick off, and the game starts. Different cheers for us are getting called out constantly; one second we are on our boxes watching a play, and the next second we are on the floor in front of the student section, tumbling, stunting, dancing, cheering, and screaming. 


The war of the loudest cheer team begins as we start chanting the same cheer using our own school name. “Beckman! Beckman! Beckman!” shout the Patriots ‒ so loud I feel my box shaking. “Foothill! Foothill! Foothill!” cry the Knights trying to overpower our chants. 


I look over at the scoreboard and see that second quarter has 10 seconds left, signaling that halftime is about to begin. The buzzer goes off, and the football players all head back to the locker rooms. I am cheering the players on with encouragement for the second half, but in reality, I am actually trying to scream out all of my nerves before the performance. 


We are all in our spots, and I look across the field to see Foothill anxiously waiting in their spots for the music to start. I make eye contact with junior Jonah Chaix, a Foothill cheerleader who used to cheer on Beckman’s squad. He gives me a thumbs-up, and then the music starts playing.


We start off strong. The first stunt I am in does not fall, so I swiftly walk to my spot in the upcoming dance routine. As our coaches scream the next routine, I hear the booming cheers from the stands, and I feel the united energy between us cheerleaders and the audience in the stands.


Next thing I know, the routine is over, and we all start cheering, hugging each other and reassuring ourselves that no stunts dropped. 


Halftime is over, and I am back on my box, enthusiastically cheering even though Beckman is down points. Since it was the last quarter and we were behind, Beckman’s side of the stadium was more somber than Foothill’s side. However, no matter the score of the game, my goal as a cheerleader is to keep the stands involved, entertained, and energized. 


The final buzzer goes off, and the score is 42-14, Foothill High winning again. Even though we lost to Foothill, I could feel how good the vibes were throughout the entire game despite the score. We were all cheering and showing our support for our football team, and that is all that matters in a game.


We arrive back to Beckman on our bus, and our whole squad is still full of energy from the game. After we get off the bus, our coach gives us corrections and highlights of the game, and then he reminds us about our next home game against Esperanza High School on Thursday, Oct. 8. Before we leave for the night, we all put our hands in the circle, and we cheer…


“1, 2, 3 PATRIOTS!”


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