You never forget a great coach — or a great cheerleader
| 4 min read
First, I want to say thank you. Thank you for being my number one cheerleader in life, but especially in basketball. Ever since I started playing co-ed at 5 years old, you were at every single game. With my eyes closed, I could still recognize your clapping in a crowded gym. I poke fun at how loud it is but it’s truly like music to my ears. It meant the world to me to look out into the stands and see your smiling face waving pom-poms. You never failed to express how you were my number one fan — but the reality is, I’m yours.
I know it stung a little when I didn’t follow in your footsteps and become a cheerleader or a dancer. I opted for a contact sport, and I always wanted to play rough with the boys. Still, you coordinated matching bows in my hair with my team’s jersey color — white bows for home games, blue bows for away. “You can still be cute!” you’d say as you tied one into my high ponytail. It was our pre-game ritual; I was always your Girly Girl.
Thank you for not trying to be another sideline basketball coach. You didn’t bother too much with the Xs and Os of the sport. You didn’t obsess over statistics or my team’s record. Fun had to always be at the center.
And when I’d huff and puff in frustration after a loss, you’d always put it in perspective: “Did you try your best?” I’d say Yes, and you’d ensure me that’s all that mattered. You still ask me this today after job interviews, writing assignments or even after my Pinterest recipe falls flat. I always say Yes, and you always know how to make me feel better.
Remember when I’d practice on our hoop in the front yard during that sweet spot of post-homework, pre-dinner time? Repeatedly, you’d open the front door in call out that it was time to come inside. “Ten more minutes, Mom!” I’d beg. I know you’d really give me 15 minutes more. Thank you for that.
In high school, you’d go with me to the gym before school at 6 a.m. to catch my rebounds. I will never forget the granny-style passes you’d throw to me at the 3-point line. Sometimes I’d be laughing too hard to swish it. Those mornings meant way more than finding a shooting rhythm; it was bonding time for us.
Thank you for your encouragement and investment in a sport that I loved — and for your unrelenting support, regardless. When I told you I wanted to be an actress on Disney Channel, you drove me to acting classes. When I said I wanted to give soccer a try, you swapped out my basketball barrettes for soccer ones. And on the day that I signed my letter of intent to play college basketball, you were right there by my side — as always.
You were there at my first rec league basketball game cheering, stomping and clapping as 5-year-old me scrambled to steal the ball from my own teammates. You were there at travel AAU tournaments handing out top-tier snacks that made other teams green with envy. You were there at my college Senior Night game waving a Fathead of my face in the stands despite an injury that kept me from playing even a minute of action.
You were the best slumber party host, the best cheerleader, the best rebounder and the best mom any young athlete could’ve asked for.
Thank you for always being there.
Your Girly Girl
Jordan Ligons is the content and community editor at MOJO. With hard work and the help of the best coaches ever (hey, dad!) she earned a basketball scholarship to play in college. And her mom was there, cheering, every step of the way.