USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘cheer’
Customs
Kinesthetic

Team Cheer

Subject: A traditional cheer preceding my high school tennis team matches.

 

Collection: On the Dana Hills High School’s tennis team, we had a tradition before every tennis match to say the same cheer to boost our team’s confidence and to also psyche out our opposing team. In the traditional cheer, we first began by creating a small tipi on the court with all of our rackets so they’re standing balanced and bringing us all together. Our team captains lead us through the letters of our school’s mascot: dolphins. They shout “D-D-DOL” followed by the rest of the team’s recitation. Then, the team captains shout “P-P-PHIN”. We move through the spelling of DOLPHINS two more times and end with a loud “Go Dolphins!” and each reach for our own rackets and bring them once more together, held high in the air.

 

Background Info: C. Stuart is a freshman at the University of Southern California and is majoring in Screenwriting. She has played tennis all her life and was a part of Dana Hills High School tennis team all four years of school.

 

Context: A written transcript shared via email after assigned to share a piece of folk practice, belief, or informally passed down tradition with a classmate.

 

Analysis: Cheers, especially those performed by those participating in the sporting event, act as expressions of identity and allow for a sense of unity within a team. In this case, the assertion of one’s own identity depends on the existence of the “other” or the other team that clearly does not know the ritual or cheer. The fact that people in physical proximity are alienated then allow for an increased sense of belonging and essential exclusivity. This sense of belonging when combined with the creation of the “other” would be comforting in the face of an unsure outcome, such as an impending sporting match. Asserting one’s team identity also helps alleviate the pressure off one individual; if one person makes a mistake, the team makes the fall with them with the potential, depending on the sport, of another person picking up the slack or recovering the mistake. Therefore, a cheer is both a way of asserting a sense of belonging and soothing anxieties when facing an unsure result.

general

Softball Cheers

I interviewed my informant, Vanessa, in the band office lounge. As I prompted her to share any folklore/folk traditions/folk beliefs she knew, she was reminded of the softball cheers she used when she was on her little league team (8-13 year olds). I collected an example from her:

 

“Down by the river (Down by the river),

Took a little walk (Took a little walk),

Met up with the other team (Met up with the other team),

Had a little talk (Had a little talk),

Pushed them in the river! (Pushed them in the river!),

Hung them up to dry (Hung them up to dry),

We will beat you! (We will beat you!),

Any old time! (Any old time!)

Any, any, any, any, any old time! (Any, any, any, any, any old time!)

 

My informant learned this cheer from the older girls on her team: “It’s been passed down for — I don’t know how many years!”

 

She told me this would normally be ‘performed’ by the team members the dugout. They would chant this when one of their team’s players were at bat. This is to distract the fielders of the opposite team. It’s a call and response, so one person says it, and everyone else echos the same thing (The part in parenthesis representing the response of the team members not leading the call).

 

Analysis

I never did softball, but I have heard about softball cheers from many of my other girl friends. From my knowledge, they range from complex (which choreographed movements or dance) to simple call and response (like the example documented here). I believe learning the chants from the older girls brings the section together, and allows a “Big-Little” relationship between the players. It also unifies the team against the other in healthy, competitive spirit.

 

Proverbs

“Faith over fear.”

Informant: At my gym, we always say, “Faith over fear.” And that was like something we used to say all the time, and that was the one point that I was even semi religious in my life.

 

My informant is a freshman at the University of Southern California. She is from San Diego, California. We had this conversation in the study room of my sorority house.

 

This is interesting because it somewhat can be related to a ritual before going out to perform. My informant was a cheerleader for a while, so this would work as a ritual and a superstition for some kind of performance she would ever do. It seems that many people have religious rituals they do before a performance, such as one of my informants doing the Catholic cross before going on in every ballet number she did. These manifest even in people who aren’t religious, and my informant is not religious anymore. This is interesting and shows some type of dependency on the idea of some hope for help from some other place, even without the belief that a God or higher power exists. It seems to be a type of mechanism that people just develop.

Rituals, festivals, holidays

Inspirationals

So for competitive cheer, Nationals is 2 days… so if you make it to Finals, the second day, we all sit in a room with our coaches. The lights are off and, uh, our coaches, they prerecord just their voices.. so there will be like a themed song throughout and then with that, each of our main coaches will give a speech they recorded on there.

I cry like a baby,  like I am heaving and everyone cries and it’s supposed to inspire you for the next day… they talk about the year and I bawl like a little, little baby and just sit on the bed and they cry, too.

But also, sometimes they put funny jokes in there. My senior year  “Inspirationals” one was really rough.

How long has this been a tradition on your team?

Uh…probably like 20 years?

Are the people on the team the same every year…like you’re all really close?

Typically, yeah… I’ve stayed with my coaches for 8 years and we’ve switched companies, like our entire cheer gym completely ended and a new one started, but most of the people were the same.

Why do you think they’ve carried this on?

I guess…it’s meant to reflect on the whole year and to inspire you for the next day and just doing it for the family that’s around you. They have Worlds this week! Ahhhh!!!

Context:

The informant, my roommate, told me this one-on-one in our room. This is the first time she ever described this tradition to me, but I have heard a lot about her cheer team over the course of living with her.

Thoughts:

Obviously, based on the emphasis my informant places on all her crying, this ritual means a lot to the cheerleaders. And Nationals is a high stakes situation, so reflecting on the year and preparation makes a lot of sense.

Game
general

Shabu-ya cheer game

“I was a cheerleader in 11th and 12th grade and on the way to football games with the football players we sang the song shabu-ya.  In it, you say the name of someone on the bus and then the rest of the bus calls back “hey.”  You then say a set of rhymes ending with something personal that makes everyone laugh, these are often insulting.  This song was only performed on the way to games not on the way back.”

My informant thinks this song was meant to build up cheer before the football games.  Her high school was over 100 years old and football was a huge tradition and this song goes all the way back to the founding of the school.

The insults may rile up emotion better than just normal cheers.  Also the insults may be a way of bonding because when everyone gets broken down together they share that moment and grow stronger together.  All of this attention just to get people ready to cheer at the football game proves that football is a big deal in Irvine.

[geolocation]