From the sidelines

by cheri block

My husband is playing golf at this very moment with Bob.

Bob was a year older than we were in high school. He was the star football player and a heart-throb. All of us younger girls began to drool when Bob and the other senior football players walked through the Quad with their kelly green lettermen’s sweaters on.

To me, their shoulders looked like big rounds of bedrock attached to very trim torsos.

If ever there were a human body oozing with perfect coordination, it was Bob’s.

I was the head cheerleader for two years in a row during  those years when cheerleaders actually lead cheers.

We were not gymnasts, bimbos, pom-pom airheads, or idiots.

We lead cheers from the side lines when high school football was popular in the San Francisco Bay Area eons ago in the 60’s.

From my vantage point there on the sidelines, I had an opportunity to assess the game as it progressed through the quarters. After all, I needed to call monosyllabic cheers such as
“Block that kick,” and “Touch down.”

Every now and then, I would branch out and insist that the rooting section, dressed in white, would try its hand at spelling “W- A (clap, clap) R- R (clap clap) I -O- R -S (clap clap).”

I would ask my squad to lead what today we would call  politically incorrect cheers. Today, those cheers would be censored. Everything has become so beige.

For example, if you can spell, you  read that our mascot was the Warriors. Lakota Sioux Warriors. Copying the cheers I had heard at Stanford University across the Bay, I lead the spirit squad in this one: “Give ’em the Ax, the Ax, the Ax, Right in the Neck, the Neck, the Neck.”

How violent. But boy did the crowd stand up and roar. It was especially effective when we were playing our arch rivals–the Huskies. Poor dogs. De-capitated by a strong and noble Indian tribe.

While on the sideline I was supposed to be 100% focused on the business at hand (the game), but I occasionally checked out the many hunks whose bodies were stuffed into tight white football pants.


My boyfriend Ron was on the football team at that time and most of the time, I was staring at him in his white pants. He looked pretty good too.

But every now and then, my eyes wandered over to the star of the team in 1966-67.


So it was fun to see Bob today, fifty years later. As we talked, my mind drifted back to those wonderful years on the sidelines.

But I was a good girl and said,

” Bye guys, have fun!


About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
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33 Responses to From the sidelines

  1. Tiffany says:

    This made me smile!

    • Cheri says:

      Well then, as an author, I have achieved my purpose, Tiffany! Thanks for letting me know. I hope this note finds you and your darling little girl getting more sleep!

  2. ShimonZ says:

    Very very interesting. I was there a decade (+) earlier going to college, and never went to a football game, though I did go to one baseball game with someone who really knew what was going on and patiently tried to explain all the nuances to me, though I think that most of it slipped by me. I don’t remember if there were any cheer leaders there, but I heard about them. They had mythical proportions. But it seems to me that a mascot then was something like a good luck charm… at least that is what I remember… did the word have another meaning?

    • Cheri says:

      I had no idea that you went to Stanford, Shimon. We are both Cardinals! When you attended, as you know, they were the Indians. I still have a pennant from the 60’s with the old Indian logo. Today’s mascot is a silly tree…quite an irreverent guy who shimmies and bows to all other mascots.

  3. shoreacres says:

    We often pushed the envelope with our football cheers, too. I’ve always remembered this one with amusement and affection: “Rickety, rickety, ree — kick ’em in the knee. Rickety, rickety, rass — kick ’em in the other knee.”

    When I was living in Salt Lake City, the Lutheran high school team had a cheer that truly is a classic: “Lutefisk, lutefisk, lefse, lefse — we’re the mighty Norskies! Jah, sure, you betcha!”

  4. wkkortas says:

    Whenever I think of cheers back in the day, I’m always reminded of Tom Lehrer’s “Fight Fiercely, Harvard”– “Come on, chaps, fight for Harvard’s glorious name/Wouldn’t it be peachy if we win the game?” ( I had a teacher who was a huge Lehrer fan, and played his records whenever he could sneak on in). This piece is utterly charming.

  5. Carol McCann says:

    I think that I was there when you were Head Cheer-leader but I’m not certain. Wasn’t it great to be politically incorrect? Rickety,rickety,rass_ kick them in the___. Happy New Year!!! So His Honor ruins a good walk by chasing that little white ball,huh?

    • Cheri says:

      You were, Carol but your last name was not McCann! And yes, Hizzoner spends lots of conversation and angst chasing that capricious white ball. Of course, you remember Bob G.?

      • Carol McCann says:

        No, I don’t remember Bob G. Yes, I started when the school did. My Maiden name was Armfield. Plus, I thought the tooting section wore green.

        • Cheri says:

          The rooting section wore white. In those days, you will remember, men wore mostly white dress shirts to work, so we collected them and passed them out during football games. How were you recruited to teach at the brand new Mission San Jose High School?

          • Carol McCann says:

            I was teaching at Washington High School where I started in 1961. I was teaching art and 1 period of English. When Mission was completed, they interviewed and I, wanting to get back into full time English, met with Mr. McDonald and Bob Stone and agreed to help create a curriculum for the Sophomore English program.That is how I began in 1964 teaching at Mission. It was a great change for me. I want to thank you for being “the wind beneath my wings” years later when we worked together. You were innovative and fresh and I was getting stale.

            • Cheri says:

              Dear Carol, you are way too kind. You were never stale. Your attention to detail and those precise and picky quizzes changed my curricula into one feared by all honors students. I credit you with reminding me that if students don’t remember the details of a novel, how will they really understand the author? Do you know what, Carol? I have never gotten rid of my files of the American lit curricula. In those files are your hand-writtten quizzes.

              • Carol McCann says:

                I think that it is time to destroy those quizzes. Are you still involved in the Academy?
                Yes you really became acute to the details and your class bear mine royally. What did create? Ha Ha !!!

              • Cheri says:

                No. I just can’t seem to through out those quizzes. I sold Mill Creek Academy in 2012 and have not returned to teach. I’m regularly in touch with the new owner, Joyce Wong, who taught at Mission for a number of years.

                Do you remember the Huck Finn Trivia contests? Oh boy, those were fun times.

  6. I am curious. Do Bob’s pants fit him in the same way as all those years ago?

    I was enamored of Shifty Hips Parton who lived across the street from me. I was a freshman and he a senior. I kept hoping he would notice me, but he never did. And to think I ended up with a basketball player when I saw him in his blue letterman sweater.
    Those lovable Huskie dawgs are still barking so the Warriors better be prepared.

  7. Brig says:

    It strikes me as strange that what was simple school spirit is now such a bad thing.
    No football players for me. I was always enamored of the guys with Wrangler butts in high school, and college, and come to think of it still am…

  8. Richard says:

    Tell any puny, round-shouldered, despairing, American young men with two left feet to come to England – they stand a better chance here. At least in my experience.

    • Cheri says:

      You are back to your old self, I see. I myself am also attracted to intellectuals with two left feet. Just saying….

      • Richard says:

        Yes – back to my old pseudo-intellectual self, though not enough for sympathy and attention to cease, please note. I could, after all, end up under a car park like my namesake.

        Just a thought. Might not those bulging physiques conceal a Caitlyn Jenner?

  9. Cheri says:

    You are right in questioning the virile or buxom outward appearance of anyone here in the US.
    Things which used to be so basic (sexual identity) are now being argued and studied in Gender Studies.

    • Richard says:

      If, following Jung, we regard the animus and the anima as archetypes of the collective unconscious, the bringing of these components into consciousness is required in the process of integration, the development of the individual psyche into an integrated whole.

      Unless I misunderstand him, Jung tells us that in this process consciousness of the anima, the female component, is that which fulfils the individual identity in a man, and the animus, the male component, fulfils the individual identity in a woman. In particular, the anima is instrumental in the creative process.

      Now, I do not know if Jung expresses an irrefutable truth, but I am certainly conscious of a female aspect in my own personality and this helps me to understand what it is to be a man, so necessary if I am to develop into a fully-fledged human being. This is an ever-continuing process and I am not exempt simply because I am a septuagenarian.

      I do not recall Jung saying that in order to achieve awareness of this female side I must alter my physical configuration. There is a unifying principle in all humanity, man or woman, involving a non-sexual libido: the gift of creativity is the resounding affirmation of the merging of man and woman.

      Zeus, according to Plato, cut humans apart. Each half yearns and seeks out the other in order to become whole again. It is a course of healing, not of surgery.

      • Cheri says:

        You understand Jung very well. Your summaries in the first two paragraphs are precise and accurate.

        I’m not sure how to respond to the last two paragraphs. Are you referring to transgender people?

        • Richard says:

          It is difficult to an express a point of view without judging others who lead their lives as they choose and do not harm others.

          Yet those who choose transgender surgery cause themselves suffering and I wonder if any regret the step they have taken. Do they truly take out a balance of the pros and cons (as it affects them)? Are they aware of Jung’s psychology and writings on the process of individuation that maybe affect all of us? Have they considered the effects on others? Can they justify taking the skills of surgeons away from people who are perhaps more deserving? Do thay have undue influence upon young and undeveloped minds?

          Apart from these objective considerations, we are all dealt different hands in every possible combination and there are those who deal successfully with what appear to me to be far worse than the feeling they somehow live in the wrong body. What, for example, of soldiers who return from war devastatingly and irreversibly mutilated in ways they never chose (though they knew the risks) while defending our way of life and our ability to choose?

          It is a human failing to suppose the grass is greener on the other side. Acceptance of our lot is deeply satisfying and enlightening, especially for those who are privileged through no particular effort of their own. In many cases it releases the energy to better the lives of those born with few advantages.

          Perhaps I judge too harshly when I suggest that, just maybe, there are far greater troubles in the world than a longing to belong, physically, to the opposite sex. Where is the leisure that enables anyone to become overwhelmed by such a longing, a longing that is of only secondary importance to basic survival?

          I exempt from my comments those who are born with ambiguous physical attributes.

          • Cheri says:

            Very interesting ideas in the comment Richard. Your point of view made me wonder about tougher darker times in world history when, I suppose, people who felt trapped in the body of the opposite sex had no time to really dwell on it.

            I reread your salient comment which read, ” Acceptance of our lot is deeply satisfying and enlightening, especially for those who are privileged through no particular effort of their own.” This is not only food for thought, but food for action.

  10. Chris says:

    Wow what memories

  11. bogard says:

    Hi Cheri,

    Well, a few days late to the conversation, but did this whole conversation bring back the memories. Knew Bob G. tangentially. Nice guy, great athlete. Hope he is well. As a non-football playing MSJ Warrior (gymnastics was my thing), I well remember sitting in the stands, following your leadership and your stellar crew, and watching those song girls dance in those fabulous outfits, my girlfriend being one of them. The game was secondary, (Bob, Ron, Dave C. were stars, and certainly there were a few guys checking them out, we just didn’t know it then). I did wear the obligatory white shirt, and did cheer. Those were the days, right? It was all good.

    Then college. My song girl girlfriend off to Stanford, I to UOP (brief start at UW), you to SC then UOP, and Ron to UOP. I went to more Stanford games than UOP games. Go Indians! Card stunts, The Dollies (she did not make the Dollies), Prince Lightfoot, The One, the Only, the Truely Incomparable, Leland Stanford, Junior, University, Marching Band. Big Game. The Bonfire (gone due to environmental concerns). Marching in The City with the Band. The Rose Bowl wins with Plunkett and Bunce, the Thunderchickens. Then 1974. No more Indians, just The Cardinal (the color, not the bird). The Band, still crazy, and The Tree (the school symbol, El Palo Alto, part of the school seal), the unofficial mascot of the LSJUMB. Fear the Tree (and all its iterations). Then, grad school at Stanford ’75-’77. Now I’m a true Cardinal, a card-carrying alum. The Band, still crazy after all those years, and still constantly in trouble for their non-PC performances. Iowa fans were not happy two Rose Bowls ago. I got harrassed in the stands; #whyme? (maybe it was my homemade Tree Hat and the fact we were stomping them 35-0 at the half, and I have a degree from that school too!!).

    Thanks for the great memories. And all the comments here have been a great read for the day.

    Finally, Roll Tide!! Butterfly Lady is nervous, as usual. But we will be watching tonight. Hope your AZ stay has been great.

    Go Warriors and Go Cardinal!


    • Cheri says:

      OMG what a terrific recap of your days, bogard. What specifics that add such richness to your comment. All of this took me way back. What a final end to that National Championship game. And a true freshman threw that pass.

      I am sure Butterfly Lady went ballistic. We actually watched the game, rooting for Georgia.

      You are such a integral part of my teen years and happy memories that when I hear from you, I perk up and think such good thoughts. What is hard to conceptualize is that over 50 years have gone by, bogard. Where did they go?

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