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!

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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.