See that girl? That’s me ## years ago. Let’s just say when this picture was taken the first Bush was prez, NKOTB were “Hangin’ Tough” in the #1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100, and I often rocked overalls with one strap hanging off my shoulder.
I was a cheerleader.
I know; any of you who have seen my dancing “skills” are stunned by this news.
I didn’t become a cheerleader because I wanted to dance poorly in a short skirt that showed my 17 year old thighs had already started accumulating cellulite. I became a cheerleader because I wanted to be part of what I consider one of the greatest experiences in the world-American football.
I can’t even remember a time when I wasn’t a football fan. My grandfather was a huge sports fan who attended USC on a baseball scholarship and he passed on his love of sports to my mother, who, in turn, passed it on to her three daughters.
My grandmother, who also attended USC, was a society girl. Her father was L. A. County manager when Los Angeles hosted the Olympics in 1932. My grandmother told me that American football made its world-wide debut at those Olympic games. She said that she and her sister Jane were going crazy cheering at the game while surrounded by foreign dignitaries who had never even seen the sport before, and thought the girls were acting un-ladylike.
I guess you can say a love of football is in the genes.
One of my earliest memories was Superbowl XIV in January 1980. The Los Angeles Rams lost to my least favorite team, The Pittsburgh Steelers. (Ironically, the same team my Seattle Seahawks would lose their only Super bowl to.) We had moved up from Southern Cal a year and a half before and were Rams fans. We had a huge super bowl party. Our team lost, but I was hooked on the football experience. Not long after, we became Seahawk fans, a true test of loyalty endurance.
Later that year we moved into the small farm town where I spent the rest of my childhood. The best thing about living in a small town was the way the whole community would come together on a Friday night to cheer on the high school football and basketball teams. I did a cheer clinic in the 3rd grade so that I could perform at halftime. (We danced to “Mickey.”) As a young girl I sat in the stands, rooting on the panthers decked out in red and white. EVERYBODY was at the games.
I remember being in 5th grade and making plans at third recess to meet up with the boy I had a crush on at the snack bar. We “went steady” from first quarter until 3rd quarter when he said something idiotic and I “broke up” with him. And junior high- phew. I don’t even want to go into it, but those Friday night games were more dramatic than any soap opera.
I tried out for cheer at the end of my sophomore year of high school, but didn’t make it. ( see my previous post http://kbjackson.com/anything-i-can-do-you-can-do-better-musings-on-an-average-life/ ) It was tough because I had envisioned myself being an SHS cheerleader since I was 8 years old. I tried again my junior year, and did make it.
I was also named “Most likely to become an obnoxious politician.” 1 out of 2 ain’t bad, right? My cohort in the pic became a United States Assistant Attorney. I wouldn’t be surprised if politics is in his future. He missed the 20 year reunion, so I have no idea if he’s still obnoxious. Probably.
While my dance skills and coordination may have been subpar- I was still a valuable asset to the squad. I was the only one who knew ANYTHING about football.
See that picture at the top of the page? Notice that all the girls are facing the crowd. What am I doing? I’m watching the game. It was always about the game for me.
Sometimes one of the girls would say, “Hey, let’s do “push ’em back!” And I would say, “That’s a defensive cheer. We’re on offense.” I became the advisor- If they didn’t know what was going on or if a cheer was appropriate for what was happening on the field, I was the go-to girl.
During my senior year I began applying to colleges. My top choice was USC, as I was a legacy there. They also had been to the Rose Bowl 3 years running, winning 2 of 3. When I went down to spend the weekend on campus to check it out, everyone talked about how amazing it was to go to the games. I wanted to be a part of it- I couldn’t wait.
My back-up schools looked like losers in comparison. Funny to think I was making decisions about my education and future based on who had the best football team, but I was.
In May of my senior year, right before graduation, my father was laid off from his job. There would be no private college in California for me. I reluctantly accepted my fate to attend the University of Washington, but insisted I wasn’t gonna like it. I planned on commuting from home and going to classes, but I wasn’t going to make any attempts to connect. It was my 18 year old version of a tantrum.
Prior to the start of the school year, UW played USC. It was a beautiful late September day. Our friend took us on his boat out onto lake Washington. After sailing around, we moored near the stadium and took a water taxi in. My grandfather was decked out in his USC jacket. I think I wore nothing to indicate allegiance. Still pouting.
That gorgeous sunny day in Seattle, USC was routed by Washington 31-0. And suddenly I knew I was part of something special. I insisted on picking up my first UW sweatshirt, which I still have to this day.
That year Washington went on to defeat Iowa in the Rose Bowl, and the following year were named co-national champions with Miami. It was a great time to be a football fan at the University of Washington. I became a Husky for life.
On a side note, I’m thankful that I didn’t end up at USC. Besides the fact that the incessant USC fight song makes my ears bleed, I would have missed out on meeting some amazing people if I hadn’t gone to UW that I am so grateful to have in my life.
My husband and I lived out of state for 10 years. During that time we remained loyal Seattle Seahawk fans. (He is not a big fan of UW) It’s been a tough road being a Seahawk fan. Over the years, we’ve had brushes with greatness (the Largent years, Shawn Alexander and the 2006 Super bowl), and a lot more brushes with defeat. But this year- I can feel it. THIS is our year.
Last Saturday a message went out on Facebook that volunteers were needed to work a VIP event at the Pyramid Alehouse across from Century Link stadium. I jumped at the chance. I didn’t have tickets to the Seahawks season home opener against rival San Francisco, but this was the next best thing.
Several months back, an organization called “Volume 12” http://officialvolume12.com/ decided to prove that the Seahawks have the best fans, and go after the World Record for loudest crowd cheer. The record was previously held by a stadium in Turkey, I believe for a soccer match. The decibels to beat were 131.7. Once the movement started, it kept gaining momentum. This tailgate party was to get people excited for the game and to prepare for the record attempt.
They had local entertainment acts like Loretta Lynn’s granddaughter.
They had Danny Bonaduce:
They had a VIP tent with blackberry cabernet and tequila lime sorbets from Seattle Sorbet http://www.seattle-sorbets.com/ (seriously yummy)
and cupcakes decorated just for the occasion:
I worked the merchandise booth for the first few hours of the party. I had a great view of the crazy costumes coming through the gates.
And then a funny thing happened.
A man came through the gates and met up with Joe Tafoya, head of Volume 12. He was sharply dressed, and was accompanied by a beautiful well-dressed woman. The crowd started to buzz.
I turned to the guy working in the booth next to me and said, “Who is that?”
He said, “I have no idea. But people are acting like he’s somebody.”
I took a picture and sent it to my mom. She always knows who is who on Seattle’s sport teams.
I watched for a bit, and became convinced that this guy must be a former Seahawk player. Based on his age and size, I figured he was probably a player from the 1980’s. I watched people follow him around, pointing excitedly. I saw a couple guys go up to him and ask to get their picture taken with him.
I walked up to where they were huddled over their camera phones and said, “Hey, who was the guy you were getting your picture taken with?”
They said, “We aren’t sure. We’re googling his picture. We think it’s Mack Strong.”
Well, I knew it wasn’t Mack Strong.
This is Mack Strong:
Mack Strong is a 6ft tall former fullback. He’s 42.
This is the person at the party:
This is Nesby Glasgow, former Seahawks safety. He’s 5’10 and 56 years old.
Nasby Glasgow had a great career with the Seahawks following his time with the Colts. He’s worth getting his picture taken with, and he deserves the respect of people knowing his name.
What struck me was the desire to be in contact with a perceived celebrity was so great, people didn’t even know or care who they were getting their picture taken with. It kind of reminded me of that time some people grabbed a regular guy, added some fake fans and paparazzi, and soon everyone on the street wanted their pic with this “famous person.” It was a hoax. And they all fell for it.
I turned to the guy next to me. “You know, we’re all a bunch of lemmings.”
He nodded and laughed.
While in the VIP tent later on I noticed a guy who looked an awful lot like Richard Sherman (this week’s NFC defensive player of the week). It turned out to be his brother, Branton. I posted this picture on facebook:
And everyone thought I had gotten my picture taken with Richard. When I revealed it was his brother, the response was still positive. People said getting your picture taken with the brother of Richard Sherman is almost as good as the real thing. Not to say Branton isn’t a real person. He is. In fact you can follow him on twitter https://twitter.com/branton_sherman . And actually he’s prettier than his brother if I’m being completely honest.
One day I will write a whole blog about our obsession with celebrity. Today is not that day.
I got distracted by Branton… where was I? Oh yeah. The game. The World Record. And the bet.
Leading up to the game, word got out that Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick had a bet on the game- losing QB would have to shave off one of their eyebrows. After a 29-3 demolition of the 49’ers, we all waited in anticipation for the reveal of a one eye-browed Colin Kaepernick. And then this-
Like the twerking girl who caught on fire, it was all a promotional hoax. Boo for hoaxes. Don’t tease me with thoughts of a one-eye browed Colin Kaepernick and then not deliver.
And finally…the record. Would we do it? COULD we do it?
We did it. The 12th man fans of the Seattle Seahawks set a World Record Sunday night for loudest crowd noise. 136.6. It was verified by this guy :
In spite of thunder rumbling and lightning crackling near the field, and a one hour severe weather delay, the record was broken. Twice, actually.
The fans were such a factor in the game that one whiny couple from San Francisco actually likened the crowd noise to illegal steroids and proposed penalties such as “The visiting team may stop the game when fan noise is greater than a specified decibel level, and should this rule be violated in more than three games, no home games will be played at the offending field for the rest of the season, including playoff games.”
I laughed because it sounded like a joke. It wasn’t.
Whining or not, what a great game. What an exciting day to be a part of.
Ah, football. I love you. I love the crisp fall game days, I love the feeling of community amongst the fans, I love watching great players execute amazing plays. I love long passes and goal line stands. I love breakaway runs and the acrobatic catches. I love watching a team work as a team, get inspired by each other, and play with a passion for the game they have played since they were little boys. I love the look on the face of a guy who has realized his dreams. I love a good rivalry and I love when the underdog defies expectations.
I love this game.