What I Learned From Being a Cheerleader for All the Wrong Reasons

"I'm wanted, I'm hot, I'm everything you're not. I'm pretty, I'm cool, I dominate this school, Who am I? Just guess…"

So, you may know that song from Bring It On, and yep, they're cheerleaders. 

Cheerleaders have always been glamorized as the pretty, popular girls in high school, who have tons of friends, get invited to parties and have boyfriends, thanks to the movie mentioned aboveAnd for me, it was for this very reason that I joined cheerleading… to be popular.

Now, before you judge me, let me tell you a little bit of my backstory: I went to an extremely small private school from kindergarten through 8th grade and wore a strict uniform every single day.

There were like 40 kids in my entire graduating 8th grade class, so everybody knew everybody and if you've read any of my stories here on Sweety High you know that I was picked on throughout school. Kids were so mean to me—I was a bit chubby, had big ol' glasses, and was an all around nerd. But by the 8th grade, I shed more than just my baby weight and really started to blossom, and the cuter I got, the meaner my 8th grade classmates got because you know, pre-teen girls can be jealous and cruel.

Allison McNamara Cheerleader

(Photo Courtesy of Allison McNamara)

I was a figure skater and dancer growing up, and I was good! And I knew I wanted to do some sort of dance-related extracurricular in high school. However, I also desperately wanted a fighting chance to be "cool" and I was so sick of being made fun of that I would have done just about anything. Everyone always talked about how cool and pretty and popular the cheerleaders were (ugh, clearly my priorities were wayyy off back then), so instead of doing the dance team–which was noticeably less cool than being a cheerleader–I decided to go for cheer.

Not only did I make the team, I became the captain! Wow, did I go from uncool to prom queen in like five seconds. Okay I wasn't actually prom queen but trust me I felt like it after all those years of being picked on. I definitely enjoyed the added attention of being a cheerleader. On the first day of school we wore our uniforms and did our hair the same way and we definitely got attention from the boys, including the upperclassmen. And just like that, I no longer felt uncool.

Cheerleading Captain


(Photos Courtesy of Allison McNamara)

But sadly I wasn't satisfied. I missed dance so much, and at practice my teammates would vouch for the fact that I was always doing pirouettes and high kicks, while wishing I was barefoot in lyrical shoes or strapped up in pointe shoes. But the trade? I was finally in the in crowd. Oh another thing, I absolutely despise watching sports. Standing through an entire football game was downright painful for me!

I didn't realize how much of my time cheerleading was going to take up—after school practices, competitions, home football games, away games. And I also had to prioritize my AP classes and freakishly advanced math and science classes to the point where I didn't time to dance or ice skate nearly as much. But, I was a flyer so at least I got to twirl in the air!

Cheerleader Allison McNamara flyer

(Photo Courtesy of Allison McNamara)

I guess the moral of the story is high school should be a time where you are figuring out who you are, using your spare time to explore creative outlets like photography, art, or maybe even a language that could ultimately help guide you into a career path.

Even though I enjoyed my time cheerleading, I really wish I used that valuable time for something else that I truly loved. And if you love cheerleading, then you should absolutely do it! But if you're using it as a shortcut to popularity, then maybe sit down and really think if it's the right thing for you and worth the time commitment.


And while we're talking about me getting picked on, HERE is how I handled being left out of a sleepover birthday party.