Cheering for the Other Team


The greatest excitement of my sophomore year in college at Albert-Preston State University was making the cheerleading squad. Well, in actual fact, it was the second team cheerleading squad since I did not make the cut for the varsity “Blue” cheer team. But I was walking on air when I received the email saying I had made the “Orange” or “O” team (after not making the cut at all as a freshman last year).

It was a lot of work and the training was much more difficult than I had ever undergone as a high school cheerleader. But, finally, we were ready to run onto the court of the big fieldhouse for the women’s basketball team’s home opener. As we stood waiting in the wings for our cue, my teammate Ellen grabbed my arm and looked at me with eyes as big as saucers, and screamed, “Haley, we’re going out!”

With her excited voice ringing in my ears, the band started playing and we began to run out onto the hardwood, performing multiple somersaults and flips and quickly scooped up our pom-poms to launch into the school spirit anthem as the crowd (not that many people, really, for girls basketball, after all) came to life at our urging and their own excitement.

We took our position seated on the floor behind the home basket when the game started. During time-outs, we ran through our cheer routines at center court. It was one huge rush for me.

It was sometime during the second half when I finally settled down emotionally and was able to watch more of the game. We were playing against our upstate rival and it was a closely fought battle of our Lady Wildcats against the hated Lady Hornets from Roane State, just 45 miles north of our own campus. I was intently watching and yelling encouragement as one of our small guards stole the ball and began a mad, dribbling dash towards our basket. One of the visiting team’s bigger forwards made a mad dash after her opponent and as she almost dove to swipe the ball away on the final dribble, she lost her footing and went spilling into our group of cheerleaders arrayed along the baseline.

As luck would have it, she fell onto me and skittered across my flattened body to land prostrate on the floor behind me and the stanchion of the basket support. The action stopped as the referee whistled a foul on another player who was also in pursuit of our player. The player from Roane got to her feet slowly and looked down at me where I lay as she made her way back to the court and lined up for our free throw.

Some of my teammates asked me if I was OK and I said that I was and resumed my seated position on the baseline. I looked up and found the opposing player who had fallen on me as she stood in the lane blocks assuming the position to rebound after a missed free throw. I was a little shaken by the unexpected physical action. As I looked at the player who had run me over, I saw her glance down at me while she waited for our guard to make her warm-up motions before the free throw. We exchanged a very quick eye-to-eye look. Then the action was back on again as the free throw floated through the net with a soft rustle and play picked up again.

I found myself following the Roane girl who had fallen on me. She was quick and fast and played tough defense against us. During one of the Roane possesions, she made a quick cut to the basket and bounced a soft layup off the glass for two points. I hate to admit it but I was…glad for her. A couple of times during the rest of the game I noticed her looking in my direction and we exchanged eye contact. During one such moment – a fleeting moment to be sure – I thought she gave me a smirking smile. Even though this was my first game cheering for my team, I felt a begrudging admiration for how well this Roane girl played against us.

When the game finished and we had eked out a five point win over our rival, the cheer squad retreated to our locker room and amidst all the hubbub of victory and my first game as a college cheerleader, I found my mind wondering who was that Roane player who had flattened me and with whom I had shared a few stolen moments of eye contact.

Back in my dorm room, I flipped open my laptop and went immediately to the Roane State women’s basketball website. I scoured through the online roster and finally found her. Jennifer Nickles, a 6’1″ junior forward from Claysburgh. There was a small headshot of Jennifer showing a smiling face in front of a pulled-back length of brown hair – exactly as she wore it during the game this evening.


After the game, I commiserated with my teammates and listened to Coach Dewey tell us everything we had done wrong that night to let victory slip away against our closest rivals, Albert-Preston State. Coach was especially hard on me for not scoring more when I had the open shot and for all of us about our lack of defense on the perimeter when their three-pointers killed us.

As I listened to the usual harangue – and did feel bad about missing some open shots and drive opportunities – I found myself thinking absent-mindedly about the cute cheerleader from bursa otele gelen escort A-P whom I had fallen across. It was funny, I thought, how we locked eyes a few times after that brief contact.

After the silent bus ride back to Roane, I walked back to my apartment and before I fell into bed, exhausted, I turned on my laptop to check on the Albert-Preston College website and found their cheerleading squad link. Clicking through, I found a team picture of their second-string cheer team and found the face for which I was searching – the cute little blonde girl I had fallen over. Haley Goggins, a sophomore, from Pyattstown. Wow, what a sweet little doll, I thought to myself, turning the laptop off and getting into bed for tomorrow’s classes.


On the way to my first class, I used my iPhone to search Facebook for Jennifer Nickles’ page – if she had one. Bingo. Her page came up and I scrolled through her timeline and then her photos as I absent-mindedly walked through campus in the chill November morning air. I studied her photos where she was candidly posed with friends and groups of friends and some of her action shots from the basketball team.

I stopped in my tracks when I reached one of Jennie’s (I was already calling her Jennie in my mind) that showed her full-length leaning against a tree in a crop top, short-shorts and flip flops. She was all bare arms and long legs and her long brown hair was down across her shoulders. She graced the camera with a wide, white-toothed smile that made her look like….(Oh, goodness, I found myself thinking) a Goddess.

“Dare I send her a friend request?” I wondered, as fellow students brushed past me on the walkway to the Life Sciences Building. I stared hard at Jennie’s photo and had a flash of memory as she fell over me in last night’s game. I hit the friend request button and threw my head back in simultaneous excitement and embarrassment.

I spent the rest of the day trying to pay attention in classes, checking my Facebook for a response from Jennie, going for a cheer team meeting in the late afternoon, checking my Facebook, meeting friends for a cafeteria dinner, checking my Facebook. Well, you get the idea.


I had an early morning practice with the team, showered, changed, then headed off to my first class. I checked my phone in mid-morning and flipped onto Facebook. I was going to check if Haley Goggins had a page. To my surprise, I found a friend request from the cute little cheerleader waiting for me. “Ha.” I thought to myself as I checked her page. I read some of her page stuff and then clicked onto her photos. Yes, there she was in her Albert-Preston cheerleading togs. Some more photos of her with girlfriends and some guys, some older pics of her from high school cheerleading and graduation, family…the usual stuff.

I scrolled back to one photo of Haley that captured my attention. It was a simple headshot with her pretty face framed by her blonde hair, smiling sweetly for the camera. “A selfie?” I wondered. “Girl, you are sweet.” I said to myself as I re-scrolled through the photo album, looking for a boyfriend. I saw some guys in her high school pictures and more in recent photos but they were all in group shots. “Was she unattached?” I asked myself as I clicked off the phone and stared into space re-imagining the way she looked last night when we exchanged those glances during the game.

Back in my apartment in mid-evening, cracking the Econ textbook that I dreaded, I opened my laptop to check for class assignments and browsed a bit and got onto Facebook. I accepted Haley’s friend request.


“Yes!” I screamed inside my head as I saw my friend request accepted by Jennie Nickles. “Now what?” I wondered to myself as I stared at Jennie’s headshot page photo. “Jeez, she’s pretty.” I thought to myself. I began typing a message to her. “Too bad about last night’s game but Wildcats always beat Hornets.” I typed. I read and re-read the message. It seemed to need something more personal and I sat there trying to compose a short postscript to the Facebook message. “You played well.” I added to my note. I thought about it for a minute or two and then hit the “Send” key.


I saw Haley’s Facebook message to me as I puzzled through my Intro Calculus text. “You little cutie, you.” I said to myself in my empty room as I looked at the cheerleader’s smiling page photo. I tried to ignore the message and her cute smile as I dove into the Calculus problem. But I found myself composing a response in the back of my head as I worked out the derivative problem on my scratch pad. In a quick moment of indiscretion I typed out my phone number and simply hit send as my reply to Haley’s message.


I dialed Jennie’s number as soon as I saw her simple numerical escort bayan Facebook response. “Don’t go to voicemail, don’t go to voicemail.” I mumbled to myself as I held the phone to my ear listening to the third, then fourth ring.

“Hey.” A somewhat distant voice said into the phone.

“Uh, Hi.” I said, practically shaking with excitement. “This is Haley.”

There was a slight pause. “Hiya, girl.” Jennie said. “Got my note, huh?”

“Oh, yeah. Thanks for giving me your number.” I said kind of stupidly, feeling nervous and not completely on any kind of plan, I realized.

“Yeah, I thought maybe we should talk or text.” Jennie said more quietly now. “How you been?”

“Oh, good.” I answered, also assuming a quieter, almost whispering voice. “Excited, y’know?” I blurted, immediately wishing I could retract that last statement.

“Excited? About this?” Jennie asked with a comic lilt to her voice.

I laughed a little and answered, “Yeah. Stupid, I know.”

“Not stupid at all. I’m glad you called.” Jennie said, taking her voice down even softer.

“It’s funny. What happened. And since then.” I said feeling dumber by the second.

“Yeah. It is kinda funny.” Jennie answered. There was silence on the line. “I’m glad you survived our collision.” She said.

“Me too.” I was beginning to feel a certain intimacy in our voices now. My heart was beating faster. Should I tell her that I thought about her falling over me a multitude of times every day? I almost did but the words got stuck in my throat.

“The way that game turned out…it was my best shot of the night.” Jennie said in a somewhat conspiratorial voice.

I gulped. “Yeah.” Was all I could eke out of my dried mouth and vocal chords.

I heard Jennie laugh on the other end of the line. “We should see each other sometime, Haley. I mean if you want to.” She said in a smooth, soft voice that made me shiver.

“Yeah. I’d like that.” I answered in what I feared was a croak.

“I’ll show you around Roane if you can get up here.” She said in a more matter-of-fact tone. “I don’t have a car and our practice schedule is pretty intense.”

“I can drive up.” I said. “Uh, when would be good?” I asked.

“We play Beckett tomorrow night. We’ll probably have a practice and film on Saturday morning. I should be free by noontime.” She said simply. “Is that good for you?”

“Yeah, sure.” I answered.

“Text me when you get close to campus. I’ll tell you where to park and meet, Okay?” Jennie said.

“Great. I’ll do that.” I answered. “Thanks.”

“We’ll have fun. See you in a couple days, Haley.”

We signed off as though we were old friends. Her voice echoed in my ears. “We’ll have fun.” She had said. I was floating somewhere just off the ground as I visualized her in the photo against the tree with her long arms and legs and wide smile. “Oh, my Gawd!” I screamed in my head as I dropped the phone on my dorm bed. I hadn’t felt this way about another girl in my entire life. It scared me a bit but I felt good and warm inside thinking about Jennie and re-running our conversation in head until I finally fell asleep.


We texted a lot during the next couple of days. Just short messages to say hi, commiserate about classwork, and making plans for my visit on Saturday afternoon.

I drove the forty minute trip up the state highway to Roane and Jennie texted me to park outside the fieldhouse and wait for her to finish her team meeting. I was my usual over-anxious fifteen minutes early self and paced and stood around the entrance waiting for my new friend to make her way outside.

Jennie came out of the glass doors of the Roane fieldhouse and smiled widely when she saw me leaning against a pillar near the ticket office. She pushed her shoulder-slung gym bag back as she approached and she gave me a quick but strong hug. I felt like a miniature in her arms as my head barely reached her shoulders. I felt safe and warm in her arms even though our embrace only lasted a fleeting second.

When we stepped back and looked at each other, I was afraid that I would never be able to speak to her. I was mesmerized by her. Looking up into her eyes, I simply smiled like a lunatic. Finally, we both laughed and said “Hiya” simultaneously – which made us laugh again.

“C’mon. I’ll show you around.” Jennie said, turning me around with a hand on my shoulder.

We walked across the campus. Jennie pointed out the buildings and landmarks of Roane State for me. She greeted some students who passed. Some commented on the game last night against Beckett. She introduced me to a couple of her friends. We made the usual conversational gambits of people getting to know each other, asking questions of each other and making small talk. It was great to be with her. I was nervous and trying to act cool about everything. Every time we exchanged glances as we talked, I felt awestruck by her beauty and her size next to me. For her part, Jennie seemed bemused by mudanya escort my conversation and the way I eagerly soaked up everything she said and pointed out to me.

At one of the intersections where the campus walkway crossed the busy campus drive, Jennie reached down and took my hand as she jogged us between traffic. She held my comparatively tiny hand in her large palm, knitting her long fingers between mine. Safely across the street, she smiled at me, squeezed her grip on me for a brief moment and let go. Our eyes met and held each other’s gaze. I felt a lump in my throat. I felt like I was falling in love.

“Yeah, it’s like that.” She said simply. “Do you feel it too?”

I nodded. “Yeah.” I answered. It was out there now.

“C’mon.” Jennie said and we kept walking. She playfully bumped her hip against me as we strolled. I giggled and bumped her back. She led us between two buildings and stopped in the narrow walkway. We faced each other, me looking up at her, Jennie looking down at me. She touched my forearm.

“My apartment is just over there.” She nodded in the direction of a four or five story building.

My heart was pounding. I nodded quietly.

“Do you want to go up with me?” She asked.

“More than anything.” I said.

“Good answer, Haley.” Jennie said and bent to kiss me very quickly on the lips. “Let’s go.”

Was I just imagining it, or were we walking at a faster pace towards her apartment building?

At the entrance, she said, “This is it, Haley.” She held the door for me. “Last chance..” She let the sly comment trail off.

“Ha. I came this far.” I said with what I hoped was a confident air.

We trudged up the steps of the apartment building, Jennie leading the way. At the third floor landing she nodded her head to the left and I followed her down the long corridor. She stopped in front of a tan-painted metal door with a “317” emblem.

“Here we are.” She said brightly as she fished out a small ring of keys. Jennie used a key to unlock the deadbolt, then another to unlock the doorknob. She pushed the door in softly with her long fingers. She smiled down at me, looked quickly down both ends of the hallway. “Come here.” She whispered to me.

I took a half step closer to her, trying to peer inside Jennie’s apartment. I felt an arm encircle my shoulders and the other arm scoop down to my hips. The next thing I knew, I was cradled in Jennie’s arms as she lifted me up. She smiled at me as she held me…then carried me across the threshold of her apartment.

Jennie kicked the metal door closed behind us and carried me into her living area. Instinctively, I wrapped my arms around her broad, athletic shoulders. I stared at the side of her face as she carried me effortlessly and made a gentle pivot to the right as we entered her bedroom. I glanced over my left shoulder at the neatly made bed in the center of the room.

Jennie looked down at me. She raised my body in her cradling arms and leaned down to kiss me.

At the touch of her lips on mine, I held her tighter and let my mouth open up for hers. My head was singing, screaming with emotion at the feel of her lips and tongue on my own. I let my hands travel over her muscled back as we french-kissed.

“Damn, you’re hot.” Jennie said to me once our lips parted and we stared into each other’s eyes.

“So are you.” I managed to wheeze out as I relaxed in Jennie’s strong arms.

Jennie took the few steps to the side of her bed and bent lower to release me onto its soft surface. I moved over to leave room for Jennie to join me on the bed. She dropped her gym duffel and kicked off her running shoes and joined me on the thin comforter atop her bed. I also kicked off my sneaks and rolled onto my side to face her where she had planted herself. We lay like that for a moment and she smiled at me.

“You’re cute, Haley.” She said quietly, looking into my eyes.

“You’re….beautiful, Jennie.” I said haltingly as I saw her face dipping towards me.

We kissed again and it escalated to pure passion as we mashed our faces together, making out heatedly on the bed. She grabbed me and rolled me on top of her. She seemed to enjoy her strength in being able to lift me and handle me like a small child. She pushed me up so that I was seated across her tummy.

She broke our kiss and said, “Take this off.” She flicked the hem of my loose blouse. She reclined her head on the pillows and watched me with a serious expression and a heated look behind her green eyes.

I grabbed my blouse and pulled it over my head, surprised at my own lack of inhibition as I dropped the shirt to the floor beside the bed. Jennie reached up to cup my breasts in my bandeau brassiere.

“This too.” She said.

I reached back and undid the clasp of the bra.

“Sweetness.” Jennie said as she cupped my bare breasts and let her fingers play over my now hardened nipples. She guided me lower and I felt her lips on my right breast, then the left. She sucked and licked my nipples and I let my hands play in her long hair on the pillow behind her. Her hands reached down to cup my backside through my jeans where I straddled her tummy. She brought her face back so we could kiss again. Her tongue was warm as it ran across my own and I wondered how I had gotten through my life so far without having this amazing girl in my life.