Background: A.S. is a 22-year-old student at USC studying Occupational Therapy. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, and both of her parents are professors at USC. She was a founding member of the cheerleading team of her high school, and the experience of being on this team helped to define her high school experience in general.
Main piece: I went to a really small high school, so we never had a football team, just a basketball team. My sophomore year of high school, a few girls (including myself) founded a cheerleading squad. At first, we weren’t very good. Our coach was a competitive cheerleader her whole life, though, so she began to increase the amount and intensity of practices and we eventually got pretty good after two years. Our second year, we went to state competitions and at this point I was our captain. Making it to competition was a huge deal because we were finally earning some credit in the cheer world. In preparation, my coach encouraged me to do something to get our squad excited and ready. So I decided to host a cheer sleepover the weekend before our competition, a sort of sisterhood-like night to bond. It became a tradition for my high school that every weekend prior to a competition (the squad goes to multiple competitions now), the cheer squad has a sleepover at the captain’s house. I only got to do it twice while in high school, but it’s nice to hear that it’s still tradition! The new captains send me & my old coach a photo each time it happens.
Performance Context: This sleepover ritual would be performed over the weekend before a competition.
My Thoughts: This sleepover ritual is a way for people to feel that they belong to a group, and that others are looking out for them. It is a way for the cheerleading team to have a shared experience and even have team bonding.