Santa Maria Sun / Humor
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 15, Issue 5
Cheer dad Krider is his daughter's biggest fan
BY ROB KRIDER
Working together, my daughter and I used to be a formidable force. Just one year ago, she and I traveled all over the country racing soapbox derby together. I was the crew chief and she was the driver. I maintained her bright pink, gravity-powered racing car, and she drove like her hair was on fire. Together, we beat father/daughter teams all over the country (we raced in New Hampshire and won first place). She and I conquered the local championship in California and went to Akron, Ohio, to race in the World Championships at Derby Downs. My uniform as a derby dad was a pair of cargo shorts with a 7/16ths end-wrench in my pocket ready to make any last-minute tweaks on the car. My daughter sported a pink “Krider Racing” T-shirt and a crash helmet, which she luckily never needed. It was an awesome experience. I’ll never forget the memories of our year racing together.
This year it is a different story. She is in high school now and soapbox derby isn’t “cool” anymore. Racing down steep hills doesn’t interest her as much as these disgusting things that seem to be all over the place called teenage boys. My soapbox-racing princess traded in her crash helmet for a cheerleading uniform—an expensive outfit that cost more than her soapbox derby car. That switch instantly makes me a cheer dad now. My uniform as a cheer dad isn’t much different than before, except instead of carrying a wrench in the pocket of my cargo shorts, I now carry lip gloss.
My introduction to cheer wasn’t a good one. It initially came through my wallet, which I used to pay for skirts, cheer camp, and special hair bows. Then I had to make four trips to five different drug stores to find the exact shade of Midnight Blue No. 6 eye shadow. I originally came home with Midnight Blue No. 8, but was chastised by the head cheer mom for clearly not following her instructions. I personally put the entire squad at risk of a poor competition score by buying my daughter the wrong shade of eye shadow. Originally I was perturbed by the head cheer mom’s eye-shadow insanity, but then I realized she was as intense about winning cheer competitions as I was about winning soapbox derby races. I soon had a whole new respect for the sport of cheerleading and the other crazy cheer parents. From then on, I was totally in it to win it.
In order to become a full-on cheer dad, I’ve had to learn the technical terms of cheerleading like “basket toss,” “full lib,” “the cradle,” and “facials.” I’ve figured out the complex art of a hair poof, and I know how to bedazzle bows. I had to learn how to style the hair poof after my daughter and my wife, whom I love, went to war in a hotel bathroom over a single strand of hair that was misplaced. The girl fight between them got so heated that I had to step in and separate the ladies to keep the peace. Peace is having dad do the hair instead of mom.
As a cheer dad, I’ve also learned the term “sassy.” The girls must be sassy: They need to look sassy, dance sassily, smile sassily, and portray the ever-important cheer embodiment of sassiness. That is all I hear the coach say over and over again, “Be sassy, girls!” I traded in my “Krider Racing” T-shirt for a sassy-looking cheerleading T-shirt. I support my little girl no matter what the sport, even if that sport doesn’t have cars in it.
The crazy part about cheerleading is it is such a dangerous sport that I wish my daughter wore her old racing crash helmet. Broken noses, sprained ankles, and concussions have rocked the cheer squad. The stunts these girls are doing are insane. I worry more watching a cheer competition than I did when my daughter was racing at 30 miles per hour. However, as worried as I am about an injury, I am more worried about losing. I’m not the only one; the other parents ask their daughters to perform with concussions, all in the name of winning. Not only do we ask the girls to play through the pain, we mandate that the girls have bright, beautiful smiles on their faces as they complete a flip and land on a sprained ankle.
“Big smiles girls, the judges are watching!”
Cheer competitions are cutthroat. They are part acrobatics and part beauty pageant. We parents ask our girls to do flips on stage while they have a pound of glitter in their eyes. Not only do they have to dance in unison, they all have to have the exact same poof in their hair. Our competition squad probably goes through six cans of hairspray at each event we attend. Damn the ozone layer and the environment, our team needs to look good to win! And the cool part is that our team does win. My daughter and I are once more traveling around the state to compete, but instead of crew chief and driver, we now don the titles hairstylist and front spot. Our combination is still successful. We headed down to Anaheim with the team and won the national championship in USA Cheer for the Large Varsity Novice High School Show Cheer Division. It’s a mouthful of a title, but it’s a national championship nonetheless. As my daughter accepted her gold medal, I was as proud of her as when she was winning soapbox derby races. No matter what, she is a champion in my heart.
At night Rob can be found in the garage shinning his daughter’s unused soapbox derby car. He polishes her car with his tears. Send your condolences through the editor at email@example.com.