When my dad got out of the army, he, uh… we moved to Arkansas. So I was probably, like, ten or eleven, um… And so then I’m, like, I became one of them, right? And, uh… going to pep rallies was, like, a new thing… for me, um… All the schools that I’d gone to, I lived in, like, Washington state, Colorado, and… they didn’t really have pep rallies. I don’t know, maybe they did in high school, but I… I wasn’t aware of them. Anyway, I remember going into this gym and, um… you know, the cheerleaders are cheering, and the football team is, like, running around, the band’s playing, and then everyone was, like, clapping, and then making this sound, like, “Woooooo!” And I was, like, I cannot make that sound, like… I was, like, trying, and I’d be going like, “Uhhh! Weeeaaah! Aaagghhh!” you know, like that. And then, as everyone was screaming, I would, like, try it out to see how to make that “wooo” sound… Anyway, so that was just, like, trying to, like, figure out how to be normal at a pep rally.
My informant is a self-described “librarian type”– she is very bookish (she studies Shakespeare and is a writing instructor) and sort of introverted. Thus, the wild screaming and cheering and overall rowdy atmosphere of pep rallies, particularly in a place to which she was new at the time, seemed very strange and out-of-character for her. This story also points to the culture of pressure to fit in or “be normal” in society generally, and especially in high school. This almost forced community gathering and vocalizing of loyalty or excitement for one’s school somewhat institutionalizes this practice, and marks my informant as an outsider who is new and unfamiliar with the expectations of how to show support for her school identity.