Texxie asked me if Holly was still cheering and what it was like being a college athlete. Well, first of all, she is done cheering. All those years of tumbling and landing hard caused a condition called Osteochondral dissecans or osteochondral defect, anyway part of the bone dies and then the cartilage won’t stick to it and part of the cartilage broke off and was floating around and causing her knee to “catch” or whatever, I’m not an expert on this shit, but anyway, she’s had one surgery for it, and now her cartilage is growing in a laboratory and she’ll have another surgery where they graft it back in. She’ll be on crutches for a long time which is highly inconvenient, especially on the KU campus which defies all stereotypes about Kansas by being extremely hilly.

But! That is not why she isn’t cheering. She made the KU cheerleading squad, which was very exciting for her, but yes, Texxie, being a college athlete is sort of hard. Cheerleading is not a scholarship sport at KU, but she did get a stipend and all kinds of expensive spirit wear and shoes. But they had the same standards as the scholarship athletes, e.g. a certain GPA, attendance at class, and whatever else. And the practices were exhausting – she had to go to weight training three times a week at 5:00 a.m. and then practice at 7:00 pm the same day. At the beginning of each practice they had to run a mile in a certain amount of time or they had to do it again. And on the off days most of the squad went to a local gymnastics place and worked on their skills. I think it was frowned upon not to. The full squad doesn’t go to away games, so it isn’t bad in that respect, but she wouldn’t know because she was trying to do this in 2020, so there were no fans in the stands and they weren’t allowed on the field in football nor on the floor in basketball. They were only allowed to cheer one football game and one basketball game each. So I imagine it wasn’t really worth it. They also planned to go to some big competition at DisneyWorld and started working on that, but if you’ve every seen Cheer on Netflix, you know there is “on the mat” and “off the mat” and Holly was “off the mat.” So mainly she sat there and watched the “on the mat” people practice. So, long story long, she hated it and quit.

She had some other misfortune that year, and I think cheer was just making her feel worse. She’d always loved it, but that year was just so dark for her age group. I worried about her every day

She misses it, though. She told me recently she can’t finish watching the second season of Cheer because it gives her “FOMO” and makes her sad. However, she changed her major after her first year (she was in Engineering) to Math, and wants to be a STEM teacher (in Kansas, if you want to teach any of the STEMs, you have to get a degree in the subject, not in education) so maybe she can be the cheerleading coach at the high school.

I remember when I finally had to give up some of the things that defined me as a teen and young adult. I was into theater and choir, but at some point after college, I just had to give it up. It hurt at the time, but I’m not the kind of person who can do community theater or a local choir or whatever but also work for a living. I wish I were. Or do I? I like my home time. It makes me mad when I have appointments.


  1. I started reading you when Holly was just tiny, so it’s kind of amazing to read all this. All grown up, dealing with grown up things. Hope her next surgery goes well. And it would be cool if she could coach cheerleading, she could pass on the parts she loved and maybe change the parts she didn’t. Thanks for the update!

  2. I still remember the picture of Holly in the autumn leaves!! And Elliot getting his head stuck in his shirt sleeve and you calling him “The Gifted One.”

    Great to enjoy reading you again!

  3. Even *I* get FOMO watching CHEER, and I wasn’t even a cheerleader, although dance team was pretty much all I cared about in high school. It’s hard with cheer and dance, because those aren’t really lifelong sports. AS OPPOSED TO SOCCER, which you can play literally until your body gives out on you. And even then, you can be a ref lol.

    It irks the shit out of me that Ava’s soccer club pushes college recruiting so hard, even though I GET IT it’s a for profit business and having recruited athletes is good for their image blah blah BLAH. I think a lot of kids participate in recruiting because they just don’t want to stop playing, which is SO DUMB when there are rec leagues and intermurals and so many other ways to play. Even if your kid DOES somehow get a scholarship, the return on investment is VERY BAD since most of us spend about $10K/year including travel. BAH.

    I hope the surgery goes well! At least she has the lifelong bragging rights of being a D1 athlete, I mean that’s nothing to sneeze at. xo

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