A Beautiful Reunion

2013 Sea Gals with alumni in the locker room at the Seahawks vs. Bucs game 11-3-13.

2013 Sea Gals with alumni in the locker room at the Seahawks vs. Bucs game 11-3-13.

I couldn’t get to sleep Saturday night. I knew the next day was going to be one I would remember for the rest of my life.

Reunions inspire reflection – remembering how things were “then,” reminiscing about all that has happened since, and embracing how things are now.

Sunday I reconnected with friends I hadn’t seen in 30 years. I was the choreographer for the 1983 Sea Gals squad and the Seahawks recognized the 1983 Seahawks and Sea Gals during halftime at yesterday’s game.

Some things never change. The gals looked the same. They acted the same. They moved the same. I guess we are who we are despite the passage of time.

Even though three decades have elapsed since we cheered for the Hawks, as we walked around the field rallying with the 12th Man, it seemed like yesterday. The fans cheered, took pictures, shared kind words. It was heartwarming. It was like yesterday.

I’m so grateful for the reunion. I loved rekindling lost friendships, sharing joy with others who share a similar bond, and feeling at peace with myself and my life.

Yesterday was beautiful. And I slept great last night. Bring on tomorrow….GO HAWKS!

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Go Seahawks!

My daughter, Kristi, as a 1996 Jr. Sea Gal.

1996 Jr. Sea Gal Kristi

Patience is not my strongest virtue. I’ll admit it. And waiting for tomorrow’s Seahawks game is killing me.

I know it’s just a football game, but this season the Seahawks unified and electrified our city. They evolved into Seattle’s sweetheart team. It’s more than just a game to fans like me.

Throughout the city, fans are dressed, tattooed and dyed blue; city lights are twinkling green and blue; the 12th man flag is flying everywhere. The buzz is all about the Seahawks.

This game is a big deal. Winning will take Seattle one step closer to the Super Bowl; one step closer to winning that pinnacle game, and shedding the negativity stemming from Seattle’s prior Super Bowl experience. Ugh…it pains me to even think about THAT experience.

So as I wait impatiently for tomorrow’s game, I am doing my best to revel in the camaraderie, the fun and the excitement in the city. I am grateful for the wild and winning 2012 season and the joy it brought to Seattle fans. And, I optimistically anticipate a continued path to the 2013 Super Bowl.

Bring on the Atlanta Falcons, and let’s see how the Seahawks fare. My guess is they will do quite well.

GO HAWKS!!!

Memorial Stadium Memories

Shoreline Wins Turkey Day Game
Our joyful Shoreline cheer squad celebrates winning the prep football metro title in Memorial Stadium.

Ah yes. Reading Bill Kossen’s story, “Turkey Times – 50 years of tasty Turkey Day Game memories and my love of prep football” printed in the Seattle Times Nov. 22, 2012 brought back many happy memories.

Kossen said he went to his first high school football game 50 years ago at age 7, and every year since has made an annual pilgrimage to Seattle’s Memorial Stadium (in the shadow of the Space Needle) to catch a game. That game 50 years ago hooked him into the world of prep football, and now as an editor and writer for The Seattle Times, he shared some of his fond memories.

I, too, have fond memories of Memorial Stadium and prep football. My father was a football referee, and oftentimes my sister and I would go to his games. We loved the energy of the crowd, the excitement, the band, the colors, the lights, and mostly, the cheerleaders.

We were young – pretty sure I was in elementary school and she was in middle school, yet we had a great time evaluating the cheer squads’ choreography (and picking up some new moves). We chose who we thought was the prettiest, who had the most pizazz, and who had the coolest uniforms.

Little did I know that those memorable childhood nights were setting the foundation for my lifelong part-time career. My sister and I both were high school cheerleaders and twirlers at Shoreline High School. I then became the only person on earth to be a featured twirler at both WSU (freshman and sophomore years) and the UW (junior and senior years). I loved the thrill of game day so much that my senior year I twirled for the Huskies on Saturdays and cheered for the Seahawks as a Sea Gal on Sundays. (And somehow I still managed to graduate in four years.)

At age 23 I became the choreographer for the Seattle Seahawks Sea Gals, and I’ve judged Sea Gals tryouts for over 20 years. I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that those exciting nights in Memorial Stadium would lead to decades of dance, cheer, coaching and choreography, but I never thought it was a talent. I always thought everyone could do it.

To this day, I love watching football. And I love watching the cheerleaders.

Recently my daughter asked me, “Mom, can’t you ever just sit back and enjoy a performance without critiquing it?”

“No, Kristi. I can’t. I can’t help but see ways to make it better!”

I try not to be judgmental in everyday life. And I certainly keep life in perspective and realize that cheerleading, dance, twirling and football are all just hobbies. But I am thankful for them because they provide a brief escape from my daily routine. They’ve brought joy, fun, friends, excitement, and hundreds of cherished memories into my life.

As far as this weekend goes, I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s Seahawks game. Yesterday’s Apple Cup matchup between WSU and the UW was one of the closest ever. And as for my high school alma mater, I can no longer cheer for it. The Shoreline Spartans, who reigned supreme in the Turkey Day battle when I was one of their cheerleaders, are no more. The school is now the community’s senior center. Ouch!

Jordyn Wieber’s Dream of All-Around Gold is Dashed

Jordyn Wieber 2012 Olympics

Jordyn Wieber performing at the 2012 Olympic Games. (AP Photo / Gregory Bull)

What a travesty! I must agree with those words spoken by Bela Karolyi last night after the women’s gymnastics competition at the Olympic Games. My heart hurts for Jordyn Wieber.

Last night, due to a Federation of International Gymnastics (FIG) rule allowing only two gymnasts per nation to compete for the individual all-around title, current World Champion Wieber was eliminated from the competition.

It doesn’t matter that she finished in fourth place and the final competition includes 24 gymnasts. Since two of her teammates scored higher than her, 21 gymnasts who finished below her will get the opportunity to compete for gold – just because they aren’t on Team USA.

What a shame for Jordyn, and any other competitor who could get cut in the future because of this rule. It’s not right to eliminate the world’s finest from an Olympic competition because they are a member of a strong team. Isn’t the goal of a team, and each individual, to be the best they can be?

Until last night I thought the Olympic Games represented the best of the best. I thought it was a fierce competition representing the world’s finest athletes. Last night I learned otherwise. The all-around competition in women’s gymnastics will not represent the best in the world. Instead it will represent SOME of the top gymnasts from a variety of countries.

It’s as if the FIG said, “Congratulations on being fabulous and placing fourth in the all-around competition. But, since we would like to see athletes from a variety of nations in the competition, we’re going to let women from other countries who finished below you compete for the Olympic title in your place. You don’t mind do you? It’s nice to share.”

I don’t believe the Olympic Games are about sharing. The Olympic Games are the ultimate competition for athletes demonstrating unfathomable excellence. Athletes who have devoted their lives to training for the games should not have to step down from the competition to allow others who score below them to participate. If there are 24 slots in a final competition, the gymnast who qualifies in fourth place should certainly have the opportunity to move forward in the competition.

The FIG needs to get rid of their 2-per-country rule before the next Olympics so no other team has to go through what Team USA experienced last night. Like Jordyn’s coach John Geddert said, “It’s an injustice Jordyn will be excluded from the all-around finals.” He posted on Facebook, “We have always known the 2 per country rule, we are not crying of spilt milk, yet it makes it difficult to explain how the 4th best AA finisher, the former world champion, does not get a shot at fulfilling her dream, just because her country happens to be incredibly strong. The sting of this injustice is painful and for the record I have voiced this opinion time and time again …. To penalize an athlete or country for being OUTSTANDING is not in the spirit of sport and certainly not the spirit of the Olympic Games.”

I agree with Geddert. But for now, the rule stands. And despite Jordyn’s tremendous disappointment she’ll need to set aside her pain and take pride in representing Team USA in the team competition and the individual floor exercise finals. Kudos to her for handling her disappointment with grace while in the world’s spotlight, and I hope she performs flawlessly as Team USA vies for the gold.

I don’t want to take anything away from the amazing USA gymnasts who qualified ahead of Jordyn – Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas. Congratulations to them! I simply feel badly that because of the 2-person per nation rule, Aly couldn’t celebrate her great accomplishment with gusto because she knew that her accomplishment meant extreme disappointment to her teammate, roommate, and best friend – Jordyn. Talk about a joy killer… Imagine the celebration they could have enjoyed had all three who qualified been allowed to move forward in the competition.

Tomorrow we’ll get to watch the drama unfold during the team competition. Good luck to Team USA and ALL FIVE of the “Fab Five.” I’m pretty sure the crowd will cheer extra loud for Jordyn. I can’t wait to hear them.

I’m Sorry…But Madonna Didn’t Bring It!

Madonna During Super Bowl Halftime Show
Madonna performing in her Super Bowl Halftime Show. Photo from MSN Entertainment.

Okay. I’m hot. Irked. A bit irritated. I know it’s petty in the great scheme of life. But, I’ve spent the majority of my life dancing, cheering, twirling, performing (or coaching those activities), so I consider myself reasonably knowledgeable in those areas. And after watching Madonna’s Super Bowl Halftime Show I was upset! To me, despite the flashy sets, incredible dancers and fabulous ending, the show on the whole was BORING. Madonna had NO PIZAZZ! No energy. No spunk. No spark! Granted, she looked fabulous, her sets were creative, her songs were proven hits, but she looked like she spent so much time worrying about everything and everyone else that she forgot to enjoy the show herself!

I kept expecting her to loosen up (I can’t believe I needed Madonna, of all people, to loosen up). She seemed preoccupied. She wasn’t INTO her performance. She was only going through the motions. It was as if she was going to finish the performance and say, “Ok. Now I’m ready. Let’s do this thing for real now and have fun with it.” Unfortunately, there were no do-overs on this one.

Thankfully she saved the show with “Like a Prayer” where she finally seemed to loosen up and enjoy the performance. Her ending (where she disappeared into a bright light and the words “World Peace” appeared on the field) was spectacular.

But what has me so exasperated is that people thought she was great! Really? Were they watching the same show that I was? I was literally embarrassed for Madonna during the pom pom/marching segment. She looked ridiculous (and marched with high steps…blaringly OUT OF STEP). Frankly it was an insult to all cheerleaders who know how to use poms (yes…there is a way to “correctly use” poms) and to all who have marched in bands or in the military. She exemplified how NOT to use poms and how NOT to march. Yikes.

I agree that she looks fabulous, not only for her age, but for ANY age! And I also appreciate that many people (again – of any age) cannot do a cartwheel, so they are impressed that she can do one (in heels no less). But she’s a superstar, and is paid accordingly, so if she’s going to do a cartwheel (a BASIC tumbling move); she’d better do it well. And she didn’t.

So there lies my frustration. Madonna is a superstar. She’s amazingly talented. She’s an over-the-top entertainer. As such, I expected her to “bring it” to this halftime show. She brought the sets, the dancers and the guest performers, but she left her hutzpah at home. Darn it! It could have been fabulous. Instead, it was a hugely disappointing lip-synced show. And what really gets me is that other people thought it was terrific. Hmmh….

Oh well. Thankfully it was JUST a halftime show – an entertaining break from our day-to-day lives.