Skyler had been right that me showing up at the game looking like a lady would have the desired effect on the opposing team. I subtly flipped my long hair over my shoulder, relishing the weight of the curls and wondering why I didn’t curl my hair years ago.
Our first game was also our home opener and I turned heads all the way to the locker rooms. I had to part ways with the guys and head into the ladies’ room where the entire cheerleading squad was readying themselves to take the field with the welcome banner.
The girls on the cheerleading squad squealed when I walked in and gathered around to give me hugs. “You go girl!” “Knock ‘em dead, tiger!” “You look amazing!”
“Thanks, guys,” I said. “I need to go get changed into my uniform.”
“Are you going to remove your eye makeup?” Amberlyn asked. “Do you need any help?”
“No, the waterproof mascara has withstood heat and sweat all week at practice. I think I’m good.”
I ducked into the largest stall in the restroom, where I’d hung my jersey and pads earlier that day. Usually I pulled all my hair back and tucked a braid inside my helmet, but not anymore. I decided to carry my helmet for now and purposely draped my curls in a cascade across my shoulders.
With a smug grin, I started toward the door of the locker room. “Wish me luck, ladies.”
Our team was waiting outside, and we ran together toward the center of the field for practice. Just prior to starting practice, I made a point to twist my hair up into a scrunchy and rest my helmet gracefully on top.
I lunged and stretched and ran ladders alongside the guys, then ran long into the endzone and caught an easy practice pass that looked more impressive than it actually was.
Then we ran back to await the welcome banner. Coach Bryant offered a traditional pep talk just outside the locker rooms since it would have been inappropriate for me to sit with the guys inside.
When the cheerleaders had their banner set, I took my position next to Skyler, just off his flank making it very clear to onlookers who was the captain, and who was his right-hand receiver. We broke the banner at full speed and I relished the hometown excitement of the first game of my senior year.