Friday, May 22, 2009


I got out of bed this morning feeling excited about my new blog and the entry I would write today. I've decided to stay on the theme of memories. As with everyone, I am sure, some of my memories are painful, while some bring soft smiles to my face. Other memories invoke deep and satisfying belly-laughter. They all hold a special place in my heart, so I'd like to share some of them with my readers over the next few days.

In 1971 my dad had just retired from the Army, so we moved to Hazard, Kentucky to be close to my PaPaw (my dad's father). He (my PaPaw) was getting up in age and my dad wanted to spend some quality time with him since he had spent so many years away from the family while globe-hopping in the military. I was a freshman in high school and quite used to moving to new schools, as I had done it my entire life. We moved to Hazard from West Point, New York, where we had lived for five years....and I had quite the New York accent. That made me a little "unique" at HHS.

One day they announced they would be starting up a new B-Team Cheerleader squad for the first time in school history. (If not in school history it had been decades since they'd had one.) All freshman were invited to try out. I decided I would give it a shot. I was very interested in sports and cheering was a "natural" for me. I loved to scream and yell, especially in support of a team. I decided to sign up and then attended the meetings where they taught us all the same cheers we would perform at Try Outs. We also had one cheer we were to choreograph ourselves and would be performing that one, as well. I was petrified and exhilarated at the same time! I had never done anything like that in front of other people before.

The Try Outs at HHS (at least back then) were not a student-body vote format. We were going to be JUDGED! "Holy cow!" I thought, "What have I gotten myself into?" Not only were we going to be judged, but the judges were members of the University of Kentucky cheerleading squad! They are only the collegiate cheerleading squad with the most National Championships in college history! Double holy cow!

There were about 25 girls trying out and only seven were to be picked for the squad, plus two alternates. They kept calling out numbers (we all were assigned numbers) until they finally called out seven numbers (I was one of them) and asked us to perform one of the cheers we had learned for our try out. When we were finished with the cheer, one of the Varsity cheerleaders said, "Congratulations! You are the seven members of our new B-Team Cheerleading squad!"

I couldn't believe I had made it! I was shocked beyond belief! It was one of the most exciting and fun experiences of my life. At the end of the year I tried out for the Varsity squad and got it again. Unfortunately, my parents had decided after try outs that we were going to move to Harlan, Kentucky where my parents are actually from originally. The next year, when I got to James A. Cawood High School, I tried out for cheerleader again there. Their voting was done by the student body and it was basically a popularity contest. Since I was brand new at the school, I didn't get it that time. I never tried out again.

I focused on becoming a leader in the pep club, called the "JACS" Club for James A. Cawood, and by my senior year I was voted in as JACS Club President and charged with the daunting task of planning, coordinating and leading every single pep rally the school had. I had to get in front of the entire student body ALONE and make the pep rallies fun, exciting and LOUD! It was great fun! And it started with my cheerleading at Hazard High School. I cherish those memories.

I learned, about three months ago, that one of the girls I cheered with at Hazard High had recently passed away due to a long illness. I was deeply saddened to hear that news. Carla, you are missed, my friend! You are forever in my memories.

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