Luck, Be A … Cheerleader?

When I was in junior high school, I tried out for the cheerleading squad. And let me tell you, I really, really, really wanted to make it. To this day I don’t know why it was so important: the camaraderie? The outfits? The perceived popularity that went with it? What I do know is that my friends and I practiced our cheers every chance we got before those auditions.

On the day the list was posted, my dreams of flailing pompoms in a choreographed dance routine were dashed. I didn’t make the squad. Later that afternoon, our principal called an assembly of every girl who had tried out. The judges had been so impressed with the talent that they had decided to add three additional spots to the team.

I didn’t get one of the additional spots. My friend did. And I remember chowing down on a big bunch of sour grapes and thinking, clearly, the only reason she made it and I didn’t was luck.

It couldn’t have been that I’m a natural klutz and maybe didn’t have the best audition in the world.

It couldn’t have been that I can’t jump more than six inches off the ground.

It couldn’t have been that I had other after school commitments and probably couldn’t keep up with the rehearsal schedule.

It couldn’t have been that she was better than I was.

It was easier to blame the outcome on either her luck, or my lack thereof. But in a pretty solid way, that was an insult to both of us. If luck had truly been a factor, then everything else must have been equal: our splits, our cartwheels, our handstands, our coordination. And frankly, how possible is it that our auditions mirrored each other’s?

Not very. And I can say that with full confidence, because I know exactly what went down during mine. So the next time I’m tempted to credit luck for someone’s achievements, I’ll think again.

Author: Diane Vallere

Diane is the author of four mystery series. Like her character Samantha Kidd, she is a former fashion buyer; like her character Madison Night, she loves Doris Day movies, like her character Polyester Monroe, she lives in California; and like her character Margo Tamblyn, she has a thing for costumes. Find out more at

4 thoughts on “Luck, Be A … Cheerleader?”

  1. What a thoughtful post. I’m sorry you didn’t make the squad, but look at the bright side: at least you didn’t have to be peppy all the time even if you didn’t feel like it!


  2. Cynthia’s post cracks me up. Diane, I agree, sometimes we use luck as an excuse for not seeing what really is going on, no? I was in the same boat as you. God knows why I even wanted to be on the squad, but my friend who I partnered with for try outs made it and not me. And come to think of it, something similar happened on the basketball team, one of the last to get cut, but got cut from the team. Sometimes it’s all about knowing where your talents lie. Or where they don’t!. LOL


  3. This is hilarious to me because I felt lucky to *avoid* cheerleading. I quit gymnastics just as I went into high school and my dad kept suggesting I try out, mostly so he’d get his money’s worth for 10 years of gymnastics payments. I’m not sure if I’d have made the team (you know, because I had no actual cheerleading training) but I’m glad I didn’t try out. My high school experience would’ve been totally different and I feel lucky to have the good experience I had. I wouldn’t change a thing!


  4. My goodness, yes. It’s very tempting to say, “Oh, so-and-so got picked because she was lucky” as a way of not facing the fact that maybe our own work wasn’t up to snuff. And you’re right about that diminishing the accomplishment of the other person too – she wasn’t good, she was just lucky, so her hard work was irrelevant. Cynthia, you crack me up. I also tried out for the basketball team with my best friend because she wanted the company. I didn’t make the team, but that’s because I got hurt on the last day of try-outs (which jeopardized a piano performance I’d been working on for ages and certainly didn’t make my teacher happy). The coach told me I would have made it otherwise. But I didn’t really want to play, so maybe I was lucky I got hurt!


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