The Whoopsie Out of You!

We’re number one.

Can’t be number two.

And we’re going to beat

The whoopsie out of you!

What in the world is a “whoopsie?” This was an actual cheer from my glory days. I guess we did beat the whoopsie out of them, because we won the state championship in 1995 and I am still talking about it. I love football, and I loved cheering in high school and college.  Those years included lots and lots of “rah-rah” and “Go team, go!” The primary purpose was to uplift the crowd’s spirits and dominate that half-time routine. 

Fast forward 25 years and cheerleaders are no longer created equally. A large majority of the cheerleaders of today don’t “cheer” for anyone in particular anymore. They practice up to seven days a week, all year round, spending hours upon hours in the gym. The sport of cheerleading has changed so much—as has the role parents play in this activity. 

Allow me to introduce myself: I am a competitive cheer mom.  

Well, at least I was for three fast and entertaining years and to date, some of the best years I have experienced in my adult life. Like other cheer moms, I was knee-deep in squad fund-raisers, scheduling travel plans (March to May is the peak of cheer season), handing out emotional support, reapplying mascara, and smearing glitter eye shadow on my daughter’s lids.  

Let’s talk about their “game.” Buckets of emotion and tears and athleticism poured into one frenzied, hyperactive routine that lasts under three minutes, with frenzied, hyperactive parents watching their child’s every move. There aren’t two periods or four quarters—it’s three minutes. The enormous pressure these children feel to be perfect for those three minutes can be overwhelming to consider, much less to experience. Then, there are the injuries. According to a study published in the journal of Pediatrics, cheer is only second to football in the number of concussions during practice. This sport isn’t for the weak.  

Aside from the scary injuries and intensity of training, there was so much that was good. This sport gave my daughter the confidence to step out on a stage in front of thousands of people and perform. She gained friends, along with strength and a love for her team that she will likely never forget.  

This article isn’t about the dangers, pressures, or delight in the world of competitive cheerleading. The price tag for competitive cheer is one of the highest of any student activity. I want to spend a little time here discussing the costs of competitive cheerleading and the many other sports and extracurricular activities in which our children participate.  It can be a heavy burden to bear if you aren’t prepared.  

I actually went into cheer saying, “Not under any circumstances,” and “I’m not going to be one of those moms,” yet…there I was, waking up at 5 a.m. to do hair and make-up and spending thousands per year on travel expenses, training, uniforms, competitions’ fees, and camps. Anyone else feel seen and understood?

We all know life has a funny way of surprising us. I see these little surprises happen to my customers every day in my business. These competitive sports costs (along with other household expenses) won’t take a backseat just because someone isn’t able to pay due to some unforeseen circumstances. What would happen if you needed $1,000 to put new tires on your vehicle or replace your washing machine? What about an unexpected tax bill? An emergency savings account works very much like insurance. An emergency savings account is a separate account from your already-established checking and savings accounts that is used only in the event of an emergency. It’s not a very exciting safeguard to have, but necessary.  

Insurance also isn’t an exciting safeguard to have, but if you get into a fender bender, you’re probably relieved you’ve been paying your insurance on time. An emergency savings account can also make having a large deductible on your auto insurance less of a crisis and more of just an inconvenience. We live in a time when many drivers choose to have higher deductibles, which means they are responsible for more of the repair costs at claim time. While this higher deductible does typically lower the premium, it can be a nightmare if a catastrophe hits.  

Let’s face it. Life is expensive and each of us needs a strong foundation to plan for the unexpected. Set an emergency savings plan goal and work to achieve it. Buy the life insurance. Buy the disability insurance. As parents, we cannot afford not to.  

During my cheer mom days, I remember that by mid-January I was exhausted. Most of my evenings were spent in the cheer gym or in the car with my bottomless cup of hot tea, feeling as if I got the whoopsie beaten out of me on the daily. Whatever your child is into, make sure you are taking care of yourself and slowing down long enough to enjoy this crazy ride we call life. Oh, and call your insurance agent every so often to make sure you are prepared for the unexpected—or for a whoopsie! (We really love those calls.)